Janet Wehr has devoted the last 17 of her 22-year nursing career to hospice care. A Qualified Therapeutic Touch Practitioner, she is a member of the Therapeutic Touch International Association and the American Holistic Nurses Association.
Wehr likes to think of her hospice work as being a midwife during the labor of dying. Here she shares stories from the journal she has kept with notes on the deaths she has accompanied. She gives credit to husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, and friends as the major players in the drama of a loved one experiences at death’s door. Day by day, hospice workers are buoyed up when they learn that "a patient has transitioned from life to death without pain or anxiety, and with as much love and compassion as possible."
Based on her experiences, Wehr explains some of the important dimensions of being a sensitive caretaker for someone who is dying. One is to be alert to a patient's need to fulfill a goal, a milestone that they want to achieve before their passing. Second, everyone who visits a dying person has the chance to do what he or she can to help the patient let go and bring closure to any lingering or depleting emotional toxins from the past. Third, hospice work gives women and men a chance to learn more about the end of life from the dying. Wehr is very grateful to all her patients who have taught her about life, death, pain, and suffering.