All posts tagged: palliative care

The Human Condition Is Not Pain Only

The human condition is not pain only. Yet pain rules us and has much power. Wise thoughts fail in its presence. Starry skies go out.[1] The sense of touch is the building block of the five senses. The largest internal organ in humans might be the liver, but the conduit of touch, the skin, dominates overall. Touch is the basis for how we commune with the world. The Incarnation also means that Christians believe God touches us directly, especially in the Eucharist. As you read this piece you are either touching your keyboard or device screen. You are absorbing the rest through other senses that rely upon touch. The priority of touch is encoded in idiomatic phrases such as, “This is touching,” or, “That touched me.” They denote a profound encounter that touches the whole person (the Biblical heart), that is, mind, body, and soul. Touch is so ever-present and inescapable, because it both opens us to the world and (one might say “therefore”) vulnerable to the world and dependent upon it. The constant intrusions of …

Palliative Care and Dignity

To be healed does not mean to be cured. Cure restores a former state of being, an expected state, a comfortable state. Medical treatment and prayers for miracles of cure are powerful and sometimes effective. Healing, however, encompasses a much greater and deeper change in someone’s life. Cure may be part of this, but is not a necessary part. Healing opens up a new life, a new way of understanding oneself, a new way of loving others. Healing may not be physical, it may be emotional, psychological or relational. Culturally, there has been an increasing expectation of cure, and the medical accomplishments of the last century are truly incredible. At the same time, however, these expectations can make healing more difficult, especially at the end of life where people may become angry that they could not be cured, and fearful of dying. Thankfully, palliative care, with the emphasis of healing rather than cure, is gaining increasing support and acknowledgement. I am not an expert, but I have had the privilege of working in a hospice. …