The space in betweenMelissa C Palmer, LCSW, ACHP-SW, APHSW-C, JD Jan 11, 2022
In yoga, we hold our breath to feel that space in between. Not inhaling, not exhaling, but just being in that place where life and death is suspended. If we never took another breath, we would die. But we have the ability to begin breathing again. But in that pause, we can find true peace and understanding.After a particularly difficult and sad family meeting, our palliative care teamlet discussed the importance of pausing. And not just a few deep breaths – really taking the time to allow the reality and gravity to sink in. Sometimes it can be a 5-minute pause, just being in that space in between. We were walking right beside the family when they learned the news that their loved one was not expected to survive, and we sat with their grief, tears, and lost futures. Silence is one of the most powerful ways to connect with others and to be present in a shared experience. Compassion and equanimity thrive in this space. The shared moments of silence can help us look beyond the veil into the divine.
Palliative care has the unique ability to hold space for patients and their loved ones to process difficult and gut-wrenching information. Meetings can extend for hours, depending on what the needs of the situation call for. Giving permission for patients and loved ones to be who they are and where they are shows respect and understanding.
The article by Bassett, Bingley and Brearly (2018) takes a careful look at how silence can serve as the balm that words cannot.
Silence as an element of care: A meta-ethnographic review of professional caregivers’ experience in clinical and pastoral settings.