The following is an IFNA member post by Lorraine Wright.
Yes, my new book “Suffering and Spirituality: The Path to Illness Healing” is to arrive at my door from my publisher any moment now. As all nursing authors know, re-reading and reflecting on what I wrote a few months ago invites a shyness and even a wish that I could do just one more draft, one more edit. Perhaps there is never a final draft for an author but rather just a ‘moment of stopping’ due to imposed deadlines. But I also had another curious reflection. Some pieces I know I could not write again. They came from a place of inspiration and intuition only availed to me at the moment of writing. So all I can say is that I gave all I had to this book at the time of writing so please eat the fish and spit out the bones.
For those wanting a sneak peak of some of the ideas that I offered here’s a little excerpt.
“I have had one recurring piece of feedback about my clinical work with families’ that has guided me in becoming more cognizant and appreciative of the spiritual dimension of therapeutic conversations with families. Colleagues and students alike have offered their unsolicited observations on the “spiritual” aspects of my clinical work for many years. One colleague suggested what he believed to be the most powerful aspect of my clinical work was what occurred between clients, family members, and myself—what he called the phenomena of “reverencing.” I pondered this observation for some time and reflected on the meaning of reverence. I have come to believe that “reverencing” is when there is a profound awe and respect, mingled with love, for the individuals seated in front of me. I often feel that same reverencing from clients and family members returned to me.
In those moments of reverencing in clinical work, something very special happens between the nurse and the individual or family; it is something felt by all—a deep emotional connection. I know and have felt these moments in clinical work. During these times, I have witnessed the most profound changes in family members’ thinking, beliefs, behavior, illness experience, and, most importantly, in their suffering. In these instances, I have felt an emotion that seems to arise only when there is reverencing. This emotion I submit is pure love.
But, what kind of love? The kind of love that I am referring to is love that opens space to the existence of another beside us in daily living (Maturana & Varela, 1992). But, what does it mean to “open space” to another? It means to be open to their particular ideas, opinions, or beliefs. And, here is the most important aspect, while suspending all judgment.
As nurses, it means suspending all judgment about our patients’/families’ descriptions of their illness experience, their illness suffering, and their choices for illness healing/treatment options. It is what I prefer to call “curious compassion.”
The more curious we are about a patient/family’s illness suffering, the more we can dissolve our own judgments and biases and practice in a space of curious compassion. It is in this space that opportunities can arise for healing, that loving interactions can flourish. This is the kind of love to strive for in one’s clinical practice with individuals/families.”
If this little excerpt has made you curious to read more, you can access my book through the usual ways of Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, or directly with my publisher www.4thFloorPress.com. Now what will I do with myself till the book arrives?
Lorraine Wright, RN, PhD, is Professor Emerita of Nursing at the University of Calgary and co-developer of the Illness Beliefs Model. Over the past 34 years, she has given presentations and workshops at national and international chronic illness, family health, family nursing, family therapy, oncology, palliative care, and spirituality and health conferences, universities, and hospitals. You can read her blog here or follow her on Twitter @drlorwright.