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|3 Things We Can Learn From Dying Hospice Patients|
|News Releases - Media & Communications|
|Written by Ginny Grimsley|
|Monday, 06 August 2012 08:53|
Does our society hold too narrow a view of what defines strength?
The things many would point to as indicators – youth, wealth, a fully capable body – fall short, says Charles Gourgey, a veteran hospice music therapist and author of Judeochristianity: The Meaning and Discovery of Faith (www.judeochristianity.org), a book that explores the unifying faith elements of Judaism and Christianity.
“Youth is ephemeral, abundant wealth is for just a few, and we all experience some kind of disability, usually at several points in our lives,” he says. “A car accident, the loss of a job or a home, grief over a loved one’s dying: such things can happen to anyone and easily destroy our happiness.”
Gourgey says some of the greatest strength he’s ever seen was demonstrated by certain of his patients facing imminent death.
“Some people have complete love and grace when facing death – it’s how they’ve lived their lives, and at the end of their lives, it’s what supports them,” he says. “Those who, at the end, are peaceful, grateful and confident share some common characteristics.”
Many patients left lasting impressions on Gourgey, and taught him valuable life lessons. He remembers one in particular.
“She was in hospice, a retired nurse who had developed a rare, incurable disease,” he recalls. “She would go around every day, checking to see what she could do for the other patients. She fetched blankets for a 104-year-old lady who always complained of cold feet. She sat with and listened to patients who needed company and someone to talk to. She had an attentive awareness about her, like she was fully in touch with her soul.”
Gourgey was with the woman when she died.
“She was radiant, she just glowed. She kept repeating how grateful she was for her life,” he says. “It was as if the life of love she’d lived was there to transport and support her at the end.”
About Charles “Carlos” Gourgey
Charles “Carlos” Gourgey, PhD, LCAT, MT-BC, is a board-certified and New York state-licensed music therapist. He has more than 20 years of experience working in hospices and nursing homes, and for 10 years was music therapist for Cabrini Hospice in New York City. He has published articles on psychology and religion in various journals.
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