Caregiving as Spiritual Practice

Story #15: Caregiving as Spiritual Practice [1]

This is one story in a series of 15 on End of Life.

Marisa, a vibrant and pretty doctor in her mid-thirties, asked me how to deal with an angry and demanding patient. I suggested she try one of the Buddhist meditations she had learned, especially before going into the patient’s room.

Marisa took time to do the compassion practices of ‘Seeing the other as another you’ and ‘Exchanging places’. “When I exchanged places with my patient, suddenly I was this old woman who had constant pain, felt ugly, helpless and unwanted,” recalled Marisa. “And when I saw this attractive young doctor come into the room, full of smiles, I hated her more than anything.”

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[1] Extracts from Facing Death and Finding Hope:
A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying By Christine Longaker, Broadway Books, New York 2001, 262 pp