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What the **** is a Vigil? Noticing patterns

While diving into the world of end-of-life stuff and soaking up insights from books that talk about how hospices and palliative care approach end-of-life care, I've figured out that knowledge is seriously powerful.

I wish someone had given me the lowdown on what the end-of-life really looks like.

No one really explained to me what the end of life really looked like. All I knew was through my own research and towards the end of my dad’s life, through speaking with his carers which had lots of experience on this.

This probably happens when you first witness your first anticipated death

The process of losing someone messes with your head, you read things, but it's like you're not really absorbing it all. At least, that was my experience. These topics can feel a bit distant and was hard to wrap my head around them, especially when there is hope for survival.

There are things you don’t know, signs you probably miss and now looking back, it's frustrating because I missed some signs during my dad's last days.

Sure, I noticed the basics like his body going downhill and him getting tired easily. But there were these subtler things, like his skin going all 'waxy.' Weirdly, I thought it made him look good, like he'd had some fancy facial. His nose was becoming more defined. It never crossed my mind that it was a sign he was nearing the end.

Sometimes things that are right in front of our noses are not fully noticed until someone else calls them to our attention

Kathryn Mannix

What the **** is a vigil?

I was reading Kathryn Mannix’s book ‘With the end in mind’ and she mentioned one of the ‘patterns’ of families towards the end of someone’s life are vigils.

Without even thinking, we were running ‘vigils’ during my dad’s last days. Taking turns to rest, planning rotas to care for dad and spend time with him. It came so natural and organic because that is what was needed for all of us, but we never put a name to it. Were we fully aware of this?

It is a shared experience

Sometimes, you're stuck between knowing and not wanting to know. It's tricky to figure out what to do and what not to do. Some things during this period are subjective, not up to just one person.

That's why it's crucial to keep learning about this stuff. Because, in the end, knowing more can help us bridge that gap between just noticing things and really understanding them.

…and that goes a long way in making things better for both the caregivers and those heading into the last chapter of their lives.

See you soon!

Fernanda

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