Singer-songwriter Judy Collins once said, “Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world."
That is how I felt about Reconnective Healing. I love this work and wanted to let people know about it. And, just like Collins said, when that happens, you do find a way. I found it at hospice.
Hospice provides palliative care to people with life-limiting illness, as well as support to their family members. Unlike the medical atmosphere of a hospital, hospice is a special place that feels like a home, which it is, for the last months or weeks of someone’s life.
At some hospices, volunteers act as a jack-of-all-trades, performing a range of duties: personal client care, changing sheets, folding towels, cooking, gardening, driving, reception, going where you are needed in the moment. At my hospice, I am fortunate that I have only one role, that of Reconnective Healing volunteer. I work one afternoon a week, alternating between the residents’ rooms and the Wellness Centre (for those in the grief and bereavement program).
When a nurse asks, “Can Reconnective Healing help?”, whether it’s with getting Tom to settle, Mary’s anxiety, Bert’s pain, or Richard’s withdrawal, my answer is always the same, “It can’t hurt and it might help.”
In my private practice, at the end of the healing, the client and I discuss what they observed, noticed and experienced during our time together. At hospice, this is not always possible as the residents often fall asleep and it is best to let them enjoy their slumber than wake them merely to hear their response. So I don’t always know if or how they’ve benefitted, but trust in the process.
It’s only later when I might find out. Perhaps at the nurses’ station when I mention that Tom fell asleep and they say, “Wonderful! He hasn’t been able to sleep, so that’s great.” Or perhaps it’s when I visit the same room a week later and the family says how much mom liked her experience and is looking forward to another one and they’d like to have one too, if that’s okay. Of course, of course, that’s what I’m here for, I say.
What do residents experience? Often it is a deep sleep, that blessed release from restlessness, anxiety, pain, or insomnia. Often they talk about “going to a place of deep peace” or tell me how all the good memories of life replayed in their mind. Sometimes those in denial about their dying come to accept it, make peace with it. Some come to forgive others, to let go of the grudges they’ve been holding onto for so long, and to make peace before they pass. Sometimes it’s themselves that they need to forgive and make peace with, to love themselves.
One resident, I’ll call her Bernice, never accepted that she was dying. She continued to drink her wine and play endless games of bridge, inviting friends to parties in her room. Bernice also made appointments to get new glasses and a replacement hearing aid, even though it would take weeks to receive it and she didn’t have that much time left. Several times, she received Reconnective Healing, yet she continued to deny she was dying. And that’s okay. There is, after all, no right or wrong way to die. One day, she simply packed up all her clothes and belongings in her suitcase and insisted she was going home. Then she laid down on her bed and died. I liked to think that Reconnective Healing helped her to find a way home that was uniquely perfect for her journey.
In the Grief and Bereavement program, clients are more vocal. One woman was so heavyhearted because her words to her daughter had been snippy, cutting her off on the phone, and telling her to call back later when she wasn’t busy. Forgiveable, certainly, unless your daughter never calls back because she dies and you are filled with remorse. During a Reconnective Healing session, the woman felt her daughter’s presence and was able to tell her I’m sorry. I love you. And from there, her own healing could begin.
Sometimes when people lose a loved one, they think the only way out of their pain is to forget and they would rather be hurting than forget. It doesn’t have to be “either/or”. One such man lost his wife of 50 years and said how Reconnective Healing helped him to remember her, all the good times and even the not-so-good times, without the sense of overwhelming loss, but simply being in gratitude for the life they’d shared. His healing, too, could begin and continue to unfold.
People often ask me what I get out of hospice and working with the dying. Isn’t it depressing, they wonder.
It is such a gift to meet these people, an honour to be a part of their lives, if only for 20 minutes while I do Reconnective Healing. With this work, we (re)connect to the Source that is within us and all around us, the Source that consists of Love, peace, joy, and compassion. Even if the resident falls asleep and doesn’t recognize what has taken place, I know they’ve opened to their Light, that somehow their transition will be easier. Besides, when I do this work, I too am in these healing frequencies.
One day, I finished a session with Maria, her daughter sitting all the while beside her bed, scowling, not wanting her mother to do this, but Maria insisted. At hospice, the resident’s wishes rule. Usually, after a session, I ask what was observed, noticed, experienced, and they talk of tingling, twitching, falling asleep, feeling relaxed, or seeing bright light, not frightening, but welcoming.
This day, Maria didn’t talk at all. Instead, she grasped my hand between both of her gnarled arthritic ones and she looked into my eyes, into my soul, while I stared back at her brown, tear‑filled eyes and into her soul. And in that moment I knew that she’d seen it, that she’d been there, taken to that place of incredible peace that her soul has recognized as home, and that she was no longer afraid. After all, how can you be afraid to return to love? She smiled, blinked away her tears, thank you she whispered, and kissed my hand.
Being able to do Reconnective Healing at hospice is a gift that is returned to me many times over. So I continue to do what I love, to bring these frequencies to the world, one person at a time.