Greetings Friends, Colleagues and Supporters,
As we come close to the end of this year, I am filled with gratitude for your kindness, support, and consideration. After 38 years in service to the hospice community, we have been forced to let go of past images, old roles, and prior concepts of what our work is and what we have to provide in regard to meeting our intention. For me personally, the grief has been paramount. Seeing our role of one-on-one touch for the dying and live teaching venues simply fade into the universe has been painful.
Many in the massage industry see this work as only being provided in a traditional structure. Coming out of that structure, cultivating a wider screen of how touch can be beneficial in our virtual world, and wanting the industry to recognize new possibilities is challenging. The massage industry has only in the past decade recognized massage for the dying as a viable professional field. Schools are just now thinking in terms of offering some CE courses in this area, and hospice corporations have only just begun to see the benefits in offering a wider range of services including massage.
So, Virtual touch, self-touch as self-care, and nurturing and teaching care providers virtually remain unrecognized. Where is the support?
The support has come from you. Our small, however dedicated audience is made up of those who are truly aware of the deeper levels of communication and intimacy that touch, and touch awareness, offer.
There has been no support from the healthcare massage industry for our wider scope of how touch might be offered in a virtual world This seems like coming full circle as I remember the lack of recognition for hospice massage for over two decades before it became a viable professional option. Currently the primary industry focus is on making massage essential. Although a needed focus, this leaves the medically fragile client underserved.
The Everflowing focus is to show up now, however we can with whatever formats and tools are available, and to teach the care providers, who can be there, touch strategies that can be integrated into the care they are providing, and teach the clients strategies in self touch to ease pain and stress if massage is denied.
We have seen what happens when massage, informed touch, is locked out. Patients should not have to be denied intentional touch because a practitioner can't get in to see them. We need a more expansive dynamic than that.
So, It feels like we are starting over again, however this time our mission is Touch Awareness and all the ways it supports quality of care for patients as well as care providers, and how wide a range of teaching prospects exist in our virtual world. Awakening of a new mission. At my age, I probably will not see this mission in full bloom. That is sad to me, however I might see the seed sprout and that is a true blessing.
Sheltering in place alone facilitates a more personal reflection. Thank you for being there.
Heart in Hands
Thank you to the Zen Caregiving Project and Mission Hospice for scheduling the Heart in Hands self-touch event in August. These events were very well attended and there was a high level of participation. The sharing in both events was honest, intimate, and validated the level of trust that can be cultivated virtually if grounding and presence are part of the delivery. To play the recording, click here: https://zencaregiving.org/2020/08/webinar-on-heart-in-hands/#
There will be another Heart in Hands event with the Zen Caregiving Project on November 4th from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon PT. Registration is now open on the ZCG website. Mission Hospice will reschedule for next year.
The Emotional Impact of Working with the Dying - 6 hour CE course
So happy to have this information and offering online now. Seeing this piece of the original 5-day course offered by itself really testifies to its value. There is a real need for this content.
The title of this course will be changed as of October 1, to "Cultivating Emotional Intelligence in Working with the Dying."
The August course was attended by 5 participants and it went very well for the first time. I was amazed with the level of participation. The sharing was authentic and intimate, revealing the need for one hour to be added to the format to allow for more down time. Click here for the upcoming dates (October and January) and to read the comments from the August participants.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation
I am very honored to be a presenter in the global educational series sponsored by the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, The Essence of Caring for the Dying and the Grieving: An Eleven-Part Journey to Understanding What Matters Most. The presenters represent India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and the United States. The first presentation was September 24, sorry for the late newsletter, and will end with my presentation on December 18. You only need to attend 80% of the presentations to receive a certificate, so there is still time for you to register. Recordings of the presentations will be available to participants for two weeks after the presentation.
I was asked to speak on self-care. Although I will not be speaking to the importance of skillful touch with the dying, I will have the opportunity to bring in self touch as an act of healing for all concerned. I hope to see some of you there.
Diamond Light School of Massage and the Healing Arts
The 13-hour Introduction to Hospice Massage has been a part of the core curriculum at Diamond Light School of Massage and the Healing arts for the past 4 years. This year the courses will be on Zoom. The class is small this year, so the school has opened up enrollment to guests. There are several spaces available to outside students.
Anyone who registers will notice a close bond already formed between the core students because they have been together for a year. This dynamic lends itself to a lot of personal sharing. The hands-on practice will be the first time for me to teach massage virtually. Those attending will need to attend with a partner for two of the sessions. For information and to register, click here.
Massage in Hospice Care, the interactive iBook
Greg Harvey, author, educator, hospice massage therapist, harpist, and publisher of the Everflowing interactive iBook died in January. Greg was a dear soul and a cherished friend. He is dearly missed by me and the San Francisco hospice community where he served for 25 years as a volunteer.
In June, I started working with various Apple legal teams to take over the publishing role of the book. We just finished. The book is a beautiful journey through my 3 and a half decades of cultivated wisdom in the field of massage for the dying.
Coming out as a highly technical interactive online resource in 2014, it was ahead of its time. With the need for students to now access virtual courses, this 13-chapter course with 17 video snippets, 12 slide presentations, 9 audio presentations and 188 pages of text is already organized for teaching purposes. The intention is to create a 10-week course with this book and provide a live webinar at the end of each week for debriefing and Q&A. I am excited to have this teaching project underway. We will keep you updated. You can access the book as a reading resource here: http://www.everflowing.org/irene'sbook.html
In closure, I want to remind you that life has handed all of us a full plate. For many, usual comfort strategies are unavailable. Our very nature of being thrives on connections, and yet we are being asked to continue to shelter in place for our 7th month. Depression and anxiety are high. It is natural. New strategies for coping have to be created; the connection we are being asked to cultivate is the connection to ourselves. This is not an easy request. Be as compassionate with yourself as possible. Try not to judge yourself harshly for seeming to be unorganized or indulgent. Nothing gets created without tearing down the old structures. Between the destruction and creation there is seeming confusion. Breathe, ground, and hold your own hand. You deserve your support and kindness! I need to read this every day!!!!