Meeting someone where they are.
When I am supporting a family or caregiver for a patient who is dying, I often say... meet them where they are, not where you think they should be. This is very important and something I learned over time. It is so easy to project what we think someone else needs, and to push our own wants and wishes onto them, but what I think is more respectful, is truly meeting them where they are and honoring their needs. I was blessed to have an experience recently that really solidified that for me.
I heard a patient crying out, screaming to be honest, and the HHA and I ran to her bedside. She was restless and agitated, her husband was scared and everyone in the room immediately assumed she needed medication. As you know... that is not my first go-to. So the HHA and I helped her sit up and I rubbed her back until she calmed. She wanted to go to the commode, which we had tried telling her was not entirely safe, but we wanted to honor her wishes, and allow her to have some independence. Another HHA came into the room and the three of us assisted her to the commode.
One HHA held her back, one held her front, I held her head in my hands so it wouldn't fall forward, and I rubbed her back. When she was done, we went to assist her up but she kept saying she wasn't ready. So we waited a minute or two and tried again. She just wanted to stay there. So we honored her wishes.
As the three of us stood there, cradling and supporting her, I felt all of us at the same time succumb to that position, as though we telepathically all agreed to stay in place for however long she needed. And we did not move. We met her where she was at. Several minutes went by before we suggested she get back into bed, which she agreed to, and she quickly
fell fast asleep.
As I was standing there with the two HHA's I felt such a sense of pride working with them and proud of them for their gentle and patient care. While we were all standing there holding her, there was this amazing quiet that filled the room, a peaceful and beautiful quiet that comforted me and filled me up.
Their experience is not about us and projecting what we think they might need is not helpful. If we meet them where they are, if we truly listen to what they want or need, imagine how that makes them feel. When someone is nearing the end of their life, what I want most of all is for them to feel as though they were cared for well. On this particular day, I feel like we did and I am touched by that in a very big way.
"Meeting someone where they are means putting aside our wants for them, whether those wants are in service to them or not, and endeavoring to understand where they are in their journey. It begins by listening without judgment, asking questions openly and honestly, and above all recognizing that they are human."
People will rarely ask you, “Meet me where I am.” But they more than likely wish you would. I believe that this is about putting aside your own opinions and judgment and listening to them, hear what they are saying for no other reason than to let them know they have been heard. And when you do this, when you validate their feelings and when they feel heard, imagine the difference you will make in their life and the journey they are on.