Archive for Speaking Truth

In Hospice: Should You Titrate?

What does titrate mean?

What does titrate mean?

Until working in hospice, and hanging around nurses and doctors, I’d never knowingly heard or used titrate in a sentence.

With no medical or chemistry background, I have darn good excuses for my ignorance.

In a patient care meeting, when a nurse asked a doctor about titrating the new medication for a patient, I’d keep a straight face. I’d maybe give a brief neutral nod, and then hoped there wouldn’t be a snap quiz after the coffee break.

Fortunately, while ignorant of many things, I’m equally curious about nearly everything! I own bunches of dictionaries and thesauruses! I can search the web! I can ask a nurse!

I eventually asked a nurse. Talking to a nice person is far better than aiming the dusty magnifying glass at a page in my Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. The definitions are printed in fonts so tiny an eagle would struggle to read a sentence.

So a friendly RN told me that many drugs should be titrated whenever introduced or discontinued as part of a patient’s care. In other words, she explained with a kind smile, there should be a gradual increase or decrease in the dosage over a period of time.

Why? Read More →

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8 Helpful Things To Say To Grieving People

From #7: Take a walk together. Sharing silence can be comforting...

From #7: Take a walk together. Sharing silence can be comforting…

In a prior post I identified comments and questions not to say to those who are grieving.

But what might be helpful things to say or do? Below are eight suggestions.

With these eight, I’m reminded of a theme in the grief support groups I’ve led: everyone’s grieving is different. None of my proposed “good” words or actions represents a magic formula. Don’t (oops, a “don’t!”) literally or figuratively copy and paste this list to any situation. Adapt it to who you are. Adapt it for the grieving person you seek to support.

(And as with the “bad” list, these sentences aren’t ranked from best to worst, or vice-versa.)

#1  I can’t imagine how you feel. Your friend/family member is flooded with powerful emotions, memories, and reactions unique to them. Often they don’t know how they feel, or why a few good hours or days in a row collapsed back into misery. But be ready to respond if your compassionate recognition of their distinctive grief leads them to ask how you coped with personal loss. If you’re able, carefully share your experiences. But honor the huge difference between telling someone what you think they should feel/do versus describing how you handled your difficult time. Read More →

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9 Things Not To Say To Grieving People

talkingWords can wound. But I like to believe 99.99% of the awkward or unsettling things said to grieving people are unintentional.

The speaker hoped to be sincere.

The speaker didn’t want to add more hurt to the hurt.

Often the best choice when with grieving friends or family, who may be experiencing the worst pain of their life, is to say . . . nothing. But that’s the proverbial easier-said-than-done. We want them to know we care. We want them to know how we feel. We want them to know we’re willing to help.

Below is my current personal list of the “Top 9” things to avoid saying. Unlike some lists, this is not ranked. #6 can be as bad as #1. In a sense, they are in random order, but there’s nothing random about the power each possesses to add anguish to an already difficult season of life.

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#1 I know how you feel. No one knows how another feels after the death of a loved one. If the one tough death you’ve had in your life was your favorite grandmother dying, and you tell someone who just lost their spouse of five decades that you know what they’re feeling . . . you don’t. In the hospice where I currently work, we offer support groups for people with similar losses. Grieving spouses gather with others mourning a partner, husband, or wife. Grieving parents join with other parents. And so on. But even when a 65-year old widow sits beside a 66-year old widow, and both had caring husbands for over forty years, they’ve had different experiences. Maybe one struggled with prostate cancer for ten years and the other left one fine morning and died in a freeway accident. Yes, both grieve, but for all of their similarities, their differences can be immense. Read More →

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