Afraid

Georgianne Ginder of Richmond, Virginia presents an article in The Main Central Jin Shin Jyutsu Newsletter, issue Number 50, Fall 2005, about being Afraid:

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February 2, 2005 – I’d spent the day at the legislature among a group of citizens taking their civic duty seriously by lobbying for Palliative Care education funding for and from the Commonwealth. In addition to input from the Massey Cancer Center, folks from The American Cancer Society did much to put the day together. Teamwork and organization are key ingredients when it comes to getting most anything accomplished.

Many know, or think they do, what hospice is or maybe what palliation is, but how are these to be implemented? What do people really want and need as they endure pain and suffering and then move toward the end of the life they have known? What can be done to assist the family? One size never has fit all nor will it.

It was implied, if not stated, just how important it is to relieve the pain of one who suffers. I had foot surgery recently and can attest to just how important that surge of heavenly relief was to me. Relief comes not only in the form of a shot, a pill, a pump, a drug – some kind of prescription, however. Managing pain is much of what my world has been about for some time now. I speak and think of the physical, emotional and mental garden varieties of pain: my own, the pain of loved ones and for some years now patients and families – as I have worked with hospice and palliative and many other services. I address in my own way the suffering of those with whom I chance to meet.

Today was no exception. I departed the Capitol and returned like a homing pigeon to the hospital where I have chosen to spend some time in recent years attempting to comfort those who are ill, gravely ill and those who approach death. I envision what I do as companion medicine or caring, a throwback to a former time. I try to take the time to listen, to hold, to pray with, to fetch, to sit by someone or – my favorite – to “administer” Jin Shin Jyutsu. During a session I am not merely able to be present with the person but to lend some physical comfort. This closeness creates an openness that is often profound. And so it was that I peeked into a room to see if I could provide something.

She was lying quietly on the bed – I was uncertain as to why – I mean the reason, the diagnosis. I do not make it my affair unless someone tells me. Ms. M.S. said she would try a Jin Shin Jyutsu session; and said she could not be touched save for one leg – too much pain most everywhere else. I began by just resting my hand on that leg, and almost immediately she hoarsely whispered…and speaking was difficult…”nervous”. She told me she was nervous and scared and wanted to go home. “Niece would come”, that sort of thing. But by all appearances I suspected she was not heading to her home…a nursing home perhaps? I gently told her to close her eyes and focus on the breath and the gentle placement of my fingertips upon the blanket covering her leg. She quickly instructed me to massage her leg. Soon she told me I should rub the other one…the sore one…that she had fallen upon and had formerly ADMONISHED me not to touch. Somehow now she wanted me to gently rub the limb that she had been cautioning me about. She told me it felt much better.

“Afraid to DIE”, she rather whispered this to me. She said she had fallen the evening before and had come to the hospital.  Her voice was labored and clipped, and it was difficult for me to hear or to understand her, but I did my best. I wondered aloud if she wanted me to pray. She nodded yes, she did, and so I did. “I thought I would die once”, I told her. I had been very sick then but had made peace with dying and knew I would be safe and could rest from my pain and turmoil. I had been afraid, but learned that I could find peace, too.

For all the open talk of depression in our world and of worries, and that rushing about that consumes us, it is often rare that someone will simply say in a word or two what it is they need to make them feel a glimmer of comfort and of peace. Rare that someone admits that they hurt in that way. “Afraid.” Why in the world wouldn’t someone be? Words such as “scared” or “frightened” or “afraid” or “nervous” surface sometimes, but it usually takes a while. And mostly we stay silent anyway. People are not supposed to utter them or admit to them, I have noticed. Stalwart and brave and in control seem to be the way we are to take life on the chin. But she was not afraid to tell me what it was she needed to give her some peace, relief and a sense of control – little things – not always little at all, but sadly so often in short supply. It isn’t that we don’t value them or at least I hope it isn’t.

There are different flavors of pain and different ways to express pain. Sometimes we don’t seem to take the time to look behind the eyes or listen to the language of the lonely who shrink silently before our eyes. Found all around us they are in offices, coffee shops, on street corners, on chairs and beds, and on the face that stares back at us from a mirror.

How do we educate those who presume to care for those who are very ill and injured?

Ask.

And really listen for an answer.

There is not one, but many.

Thank you, Georgianne.

Thank you, Mary.

Thank you, David.

Gassho, Namaste, Blessings

All issues of The Main Central Jin Shin Jyutsu Newsletter are available at http://www.jsjinc.net.

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