She did not think that she would survive that long, and showed me a list of hymns she had chosen to be sung at her funeral and a verse from the bible she had chosen to be read. It was very sad.
I felt satisfied about the condition of the patient and the family before the incident occurred. This was because both the patient and the family had accepted the imminent death of Betty. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1969) in her book On Death and Dying has pointed that openly acknowledging the imminence of death and assisting the patient and family in addressing their issues of immediate concern would significantly improve the quality of the dying process.
I had made efforts to ensure that rather than denying the situation the family could come together and support each other. I saw them expressing important emotional feelings for each other. I knew that this interaction was going a long way in helping Betty to resolve unresolved issues. I felt that she was being freed of emotional bondages so that the physical process could take its course peacefully.
What was bad about the experience was the sight of a patient for whom I had worked hard in tears. I was reassured when I found that the reason for Betty's sadness was a dream rather than negligence on my part. I know that the emotional turmoil that goes on in a person who is dying is very intense. So I had taken every effort to address as many of these issues as possible and to be ready for all physical as well as emotional contingencies. When Betty shared with me about her dream I was a little unprepared. Especially as my personal belief is that dreams are a reflection of reality and was not inclined to accept that loved ones who have passed away could appear in dreams. However as a nurse giving palliative care I was aware that I needed to be sensitive to the beliefs of the patient. The UKs Nursing and midwifery council in it's 'code of professional conduct: standards for conduct, performance and ethics' (2002) in section 2.2 states:
"You are personally accountable for ensuring that you promote and protect the interests and dignity of patients and clients, irrespective of gender, age, race, ability, sexuality, economic status, lifestyle, culture and religious or political beliefs."
So I am glad that I respected her right to believe that her late husband actually visited her in the dream. This was the good part of the experience for me. I also affirmed her religious belief in the Bible as her religious book and empathized with her that the Bible verse and the hymns she had chosen for her funeral would have to wait for a little longer than she had expected to be used.
I am also glad that I was able to communicate my empathy to her effectively. It was a situation where no words would have been appropriate. I knew that the key lay in my non-verbal affirmation of her emotional state. According to Hayes and Orrell (1993) the posture can communicate differently from the words and negative messages from the body are more likely to be believed than the positive words that are spoken. I knew I did the best thing I could by seating myself next to her and holding her hand. I was gratified that she felt safe with me to