Dr John Smith: Cransley Hospice staff can hold their heads up high

All at Cransley Hospice should hold their heads high, says Dr John
All at Cransley Hospice should hold their heads high, says Dr John

Most of us are embarrassed when people say something nice about us.

Our heads go down and we mutter something like “it was nothing, anyone could have done it”.

That may be the case, but it generally isn’t, for we have made the choice to care about someone, when others might have walked away.

So it’s heads up and a big thank you for saying that.

This week it happened to me. I hadn’t seen the lady for 16 years when she said “hello”. To be honest I could not recognise her and said so. No worries because it was a long time ago when her mum was a patient in the hospice. Sixteen years on and she wanted to thank me for the care that was given.

She hadn’t forgotten and did not want to forget. What was a difficult time became a good time, and out of that time came even more good because some time later she began to work in the hospice too. It made sense of the tragedy and the memories that she has are good ones. There are no regrets.

The word hospice literally means a resting place on a journey. In the sense that we use it today the journey is coming to an end.

To rest we need support and good symptom control, to rest we need to know that our family and friends are being cared for, to rest we need people to listen to us, to hear our fears, to hear us say thank you for the life that we have been given and, yes, to be able to express our regrets for what we have struggled with, for the wrongs we may have done, to seek forgiveness and to be forgiven.

Hospice is often the place where we begin to make sense of our lives, a sort of summing up of what we have been, what we are and what we mean to others.

It is when this happens that people express their thanks. And it is not a transitory thank you either, it is almost lifelong. Yes, I can hold my head up high and Cransley Hospice and its staff should too.