Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hospice, Sexual Abuse and the Survivors last days.

"Guest post written by a Hospice Care Giver which happens to be a very close friend. Her stories bring to light how long people carry the hurt and burdens of Childhood Sexual Abuse."
I have been blessed with the unique privilege of helping care for terminally ill patients in their last weeks of life.  I'm a hospice care giver and I LOVE my job!! I am always grateful to my patients and their families for allowing me to be a part of one of the most intimate experiences they will go through.  When they are admitted to our facility, we are complete strangers to each other, but very quickly we are thrust in to circumstances that don't allow for getting to know yous or trust building.  There have been many things that have surprised me in the 3 years that I've been doing this.  These surprises range from the resolve and courage that the patients exude, to the how the amount of peace a patient has found will translate to the way their final days will go. 
The patients I care for come from all walks of life, all types of experiences, and have all types of histories.  When a patient has a history of abuse, even if they have found closure, healing, and forgiveness, it inevitably creeps back up when they are on their death bed.  Abuse, physical or sexual, impacts a patient's ability to let a caregiver actually care for them.  Bathing, repositioning, not to mention other medically required procedures, all become moments filled with anxiety, and sometimes fear.  I have had women, after years of therapy, happy marriages, and positive experiences as a mother, become focused on their history of abuse.  At times, It will consume their thoughts and conversations and if they have not been able to forgive their abuser, that plagues them as well.  I have had some who tremble in fear when we need to bathe them or dress them. 
Abusers probably don't care how much of an impact their actions have on their victims; their inappropriate acts linger far beyond therapy sessions, years of healing, or years of perfecting the art of disassociation.  An abuser's acts will surface at a time when a patient must face all that has occurred in their life and come to terms with it.  An abuser's acts will sometimes be part of the last thing a patient speaks or expresses to family members. An abuser's acts will invoke fear in an adult who may have thought they put those emotions, those nightmares behind them. 
The impact of abuse is far reaching and sometimes in ways that we would least expect.  Three years later, I still encounter situations where my patient is robbed of their peace and their right to pass away surrounded by only good memories because of what an abuser did in their past.