I first heard someone use the term “unfold” in relation to opening up to one’s spiritual gifts a couple of years ago. The word caught my attention and I imagined gifts, skills, stories, songs, and other things unfolding like a rose — each petal shifting imperceptibly until finally it is open. Unfold seems like such a sweet word. It is not like “find” or “build” or “identify.” It is inevitable. It does not require force. It takes as much time as it needs. You cannot hurry the petals of a rose.
This week we explore what happens when we #WatchLifeUnfold, but what does this mean for helping professionals? I did a little searching and decided to focus on hospice professionals and others who work with dying patients. There are many articles about how to take care of yourself, but I found something new in this search: ritual.
Rituals help us process the emotions that accompany grief — that’s why we have funerals, celebrations of life, wakes, and other traditions. This also holds true for those who encounter death in their profession. The Journal of Palliative Medicine published an article about the use of “personally meaningful ritual” among hospice staff and volunteers. They found that those who took the time to engage in a ritual to acknowledge the death of a patient had higher “compassion satisfaction” and lower burnout. Click here to read more.
In this article, Texas State Professor Sally Hill Jones also suggests that hospice workers integrate a spiritual component into their self care practices. Taking the space to meditate, pray, connect with nature or other rituals allow us to take a step back and see a bigger picture of helping work. The big picture can get lost in paperwork, grief, or burnout unless it is prioritized.
When we take a moment to see what is, without trying to change it or document it, we can find peace. A ritual can become a habit so that it becomes easier to remember the importance of watching life unfold. What rituals do you use to honor the patients you have lost and soothe your soul?
Please share, ask questions, leave comments, suggest topics, and tell stories! I want to hear about your moments of magic, miracles, and synchronicity.
Dare to be immortal.
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