Whole person care -- for ourselves

Balfour Mount, palliative care founder and physician, is quoted as saying: "Whole person care requires a whole person -- until you find one, use your team." Thankfully, we do not need to be whole, as in perfect, complete or self-sufficient to do this work. There is a reciprocity in doing this work with self-awareness and self-reflection that can lead to our healing, even as we seek to facilitate the healing of others. 


Consider these words from Rachel Naomi Remen: 

Being whole doesn’t mean being more than who you are this very moment.  It means being who you are this very moment.  It means accepting the parts of yourself that used to make you ashamed, or feel small. These are the parts of yourself that will allow you to connect to other people, allow you to own your own strength.  I’ve noticed the wounds that I have suffered in fifty years of chronic illness enable me to respond to other wounded people with compassion.  Without them I don’t think I’d know compassion.  And neither would you, without your wounds. My loneliness, which is part of my wholeness, has helped me to find you, in the dark. To sit with you, be with you, care about you.  Because everyone’s lonely; me and you, we’re both lonely. And when I was not willing to allow myself to be lonely, to know that I needed other people, I would never have been able to sit here with you and find you. And I was less than whole without my loneliness, without my wounds. This is part of wholeness, too; for you, for me, for everyone. Every one of us wants to be more than we are, wants to give more than we can give.  There’s something in us, in our education, our training, That says “Only perfect is good enough.”  This is an absolute setup for burning out. Each one of us, you and me, we’re already enough. We’re already exactly what is needed. The ways in which we’re human, our anger, our doubts, our fears, our loneliness, all of these things are exactly what is needed. Most of us have blessed and helped many more people than we know. I might just be exactly the right person for the person in front of me. Not because I’m trying to be the right person, but because I really am the right person, to offer them the reminder of their wholeness, to evoke their strength just by who I am, by my presence, in ways that I many never know about.  It’s not our expertise that blesses people, it’s our humanness. When you know this about yourself, nobody in your presence ever needs to feel alone . . . or lonely.  And you yourself won’t feel alone or lonely, either. So reach out for your wholeness. May you be blessed by it.  May it allow you to connect to all people everywhere, to all wholeness in all people everywhere. Even the wholeness that’s hidden, the wholeness they don’t even know is there. May you become transparent to the wholeness in you so that it shines, and reminds people where their home is.  May you serve with everything you know and everything you are. 


For reflection alone or together: 

Remen says, "It's not our expertise that blesses people, it's our humanness."

How is that statement true in your life? 

How is it not true? 

Next week: Measure by measure

Supportive Care Coalition