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  • Writer's pictureMichaelene Dowers

Making Peace with the Bees: The Art of Listening to Hospice Patients

I saw another Instagram influencer, Nurse.Hadley, a hospice nurse, posted about having an open, communicative relationship with the individuals she works with. The hypothetical patient was a senior veteran telling his hospice nurse that he doesn’t have as many difficulties with PTSD as others because he has a garden and has “made peace with the bees,” followed by “the bees are the ones that bothered me most. They’d fly near your ear and make the same sound as a bullet barely missing your head.” This was said about the Vietnam War battles that the hypothetical Veteran experienced.

In our fast-paced, modern world, we often find ourselves caught up in the whirlwind of our lives, barely pausing to listen to the world around us. But in the quieter moments, when we choose to listen genuinely, we can discover profound wisdom and connect with others on a deeper level. This art of listening is especially crucial for hospice patients whose stories, memories, and insights can offer a unique perspective on life, love, and acceptance. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of listening to those in hospice care and how we can all benefit from becoming better listeners.

Bees, those tiny, buzzing creatures that flit from flower to flower, have a lesson to teach us about the art of listening. Much like how bees diligently collect nectar and pollen from various sources, we can gather knowledge, experience, and understanding by listening attentively to the words and stories of those in hospice care.

Imagine a hospice patient as a flower in the twilight of its bloom. They have a lifetime of experiences, memories, and insights to share, much like the nectar within the flower. Just as bees carefully extract nectar while pollinating the flower, we can remove the wisdom and life lessons hospice patients offer through our attentive listening.

Why Listening Matters in Hospice Care

  1. Validation of Their Journey: Hospice patients often grapple with complex emotions and reflections as they approach the end of life. Listening to their thoughts and stories validates their journey and offers them the comfort of knowing their experiences are seen and acknowledged.

  2. Preservation of Legacy: Every person's life is a unique story, and by listening to hospice patients, we help preserve their legacy. Their memories and insights become a cherished part of the collective human experience, and their stories can continue to inspire future generations.

  3. Psychological Comfort: Active listening provides psychological comfort to hospice patients. It allows them to express their fears, hopes, and regrets, enabling them to find closure and peace in their final days.

  4. Enhanced Quality of Care: For healthcare providers and caregivers, listening to patients is integral to providing personalized and compassionate care. It ensures that treatment plans and emotional support align with the patient's wishes and needs.

How to Become a Better Listener

Listening isn't just about hearing words; it's about understanding emotions, acknowledging unspoken feelings, and showing empathy. Here are some tips for becoming a better listener, not only for those on hospice but for everyone in your life:

  1. Be Present: Give your full attention to the speaker. Put away distractions, maintain eye contact, and show that you're fully engaged in the conversation.

  2. Empathize: Try to understand the speaker's emotions and perspective. Empathetic listening allows you to connect on a deeper level.

  3. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage hospice patients to share by asking open-ended questions that invite them to elaborate on their thoughts and experiences.

  4. Avoid Interrupting: Resist the urge to interrupt or offer advice immediately. Sometimes, people need a space to share their thoughts without judgment.

  5. Practice Patience: Be patient, especially when the speaker is taking their time to express themselves. Silence can be as valuable as words.

  6. Reflect and Summarize: After the speaker finishes, reflect on what they've said and summarize it. This shows that you were actively listening and understood their message.

As we navigate the complexities of our lives, it's easy to overlook the quiet wisdom and profound insights that hospice patients can offer. By adopting the art of listening and making peace with the bees, we can create meaningful connections, offer comfort, and preserve the rich tapestry of human experiences. So, let us pause, listen, and honor the stories and wisdom of those in hospice care, for in doing so, we enrich their lives and our own.

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