a community of practitioners
Heather, I am a nurse massage therapist. My nursing background is in oncology and I treat several clients with cancer, I am also currently working as a hospice nurse. You will ALWAYS be affected by these clients. IF you weren't, you would be very unusual. It will get easier to handle the feelings the more you experience them. As we care for these clients, we build a relationship, albeit professional, it's still a relationship. Know that you are making a difference in these clients lives and helping them to enjoy a time when many cannot find any enjoyment. You do a good thing my friend - don't give up and keep the faith.
Then do whatever makes your clients happy.
All reasons for NOT doing certain techniques or postponing massage do not apply for the terminally ill.
I like to think about hospice as the midwives for the dying.
If your clients are asking for massage, they are needing to be touched and nurtured. Do whatever you can to make them happy.
Teach their caregivers to massage your clients too. What a gift these people have in someone like you.
Connecting to patients is important. Showing compassion, empathy, nurturing, and showing that you really care can make a big differences in the patients day and in their recovery process. Showing emotion is sometime primary healthcare lacks....everything is sterile and emotionless. This healing process maybe as much about you then it is to the patient. Embrace, reflect and learn from the experience. It'll make you a better massage therapist. Thank you for your work!
I never considered myself a 'religious' person. However, since doing oncology massage I have become very spiritual. Many times, clients will ask me to 'pray' with/for them and I find myself doing an impromptu prayer. I let these people know that they have affected me and I will most certainly miss them. Many of them feel so alone, that I think it comforts them to know that even this near-stranger has been changed because of them and will miss them. I've lost several clients and it never gets any easier. I miss them as I would any friend or good acquaintance. But I also value living and my loved ones even more. I think when I reach the point that it doesn't affect me anymore on a regular basis, I need to move to a different focus for my massage.