Palliative psychologist: This is what people struggle with most at the end of their lives
Probably the ideal and, for many people, most desirable end to their life is being able to walk in peace and let go when it is their turn. But what are the prerequisites for this? We talked about it with a palliative psychologist.
Whether we are fat or thin, whether we are particularly good at recognizing patterns and completing series of numbers or dancing excellently, whether we go through the world as single or with a partner: in and family – we will all die one day. Of course, that’s not the only thing that unites us or what we have in common, but it’s a pretty big and important thing that is not always easy to deal with. Death is a difficult subject. As a result, some people avoid thinking about it and live as if they were immortal as long as they can. Maybe that’s not a bad strategy. Or maybe it is not bad to deal with death and your own mortality. For some people, this may actually help them to appreciate their lives more and to shape them more consciously in such a way that it fulfills them. And that in the end they can look back and think: On the whole, I did everything right.
Palliative psychologist reveals what people most often regret before they die
The palliative psychologist Hanna Salm is faced with dying on a daily basis due to her job. In the Helios Clinic in Bad Saarow, Brandenburg, the psychologist accompanies terminally ill people, mostly cancer patients: inside, through their last phase of life and provides psychological support to the dying and their relatives. From her experience and her observations, Hanna Salm knows or has developed a feeling for the conditions under which many people can usually say goodbye calmly and in peace with themselves and the world – and what makes some struggle and feel remorse.
“I’ve never seen anyone say at the end, ‘I’d only have worked more and made more money‘”says the psychologist. According to her, it is more often unresolved conflicts and broken relationships that haunt people before they die and give them the feeling that they have missed something important and decisive.” If there was a break in contact, for example the sister or another once trusted, close person, after the diagnosis, many sick people feel the desire to talk to this person again and, in the best case, to sort things out, “says Hanna Salm. In her view, this is one of the reasons the relationships to our loved ones what is most important to us in our life.
What does this mean for our way of life?
We all have numerous decisions to make along the way. Some give us headaches for days, others do not let us sleep for nights and with some we feel uncomfortable sooner or later. In fact, we can’t go wrong with many of our decisions – there isn’t just one good way for everyone: n of us, but tons. As long as we are away from our Let values, feelings and reasons guide and not from strangers, we do not need to regret anything that we have decided at a certain point to the best of our knowledge and to the best of our ability. We can also correct or absorb most of it later, when we are smarter, stronger or further.
However, according to the observations of Hanna Salm and other psychologists, one decision seems to be particularly important and not to make an omission that we can hardly forgive ourselves: to give priority in our lives to the people who mean something to us they deserve. We can be happy as a carpenter, teacher, author, cook. Whether we are fat or thin, live in a major European city or in the countryside in China, hardly matters whether we have a fulfilled life or not. But without deep, personal, social connections, without intimate relationships, we don’t feel complete. And as long as we take this into account in our decisions, we are sure to get one thing right.