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Arecurrent theme throughout this issue of End of Life Care is the importance of ‘staying’ with patients. ‘Staying’ is part of the professional act of caring. It involves remaining physically and emotionally present for patients throughout their pain or emotional anguish. It does not necessarily involve trying to do something practical. I draw your attention to Irene Tuffrey-Wijne’s work on pages 35–39.
Caring for patients who experience extreme, intractable, emotional or physical pain is, perhaps, one of the most difficult and emotionally demanding and debilitating aspects of professional caring. Faced with anguish, carers may quickly become emotionally exhausted or overwhelmed. They may then compensate by concentrating on the practical and physical aspects of care, rather than remaining quietly with the patient, trying fully to engage with their distress. Avoiding the anguish of patients is a defensive mechanism.
Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of St Christopher’s Hospice and the …
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