This week one of my long term clients died from a progressive neuro disease. Working in private community neuro- rehab, my clients don’t often die- most do not have progressive diseases. However, as with the last death a few years ago, I feel so raw. It’s a different grief compared to a family member /close friend dying, but I’m still overwhelmed by the intensity of my feeling. I’m seeing him everywhere, everything is reminding me of him, I keep shedding tears at unexpected times.
This client taught me so much. A tough case for a number of reasons which has kept me on my toes for two years. A huge amount of background work with a big multi disciplinary team which has taken a lot of my time. My first proper experience of reminiscence therapy as a communication therapy tool (and what a powerful tool it is). I also read this book twice in its entirety whilst treating this client.
The best part of working with this client was our 1:1 sessions in the middle part of his disease progression when he was still able to communicate well enough to talk about the past. Despite being a jargon aphasic he was a powerful communicator. He was a specialist in a particular type of engineering and had the most amazing life. We built up a strong relationship bonding over his past- this relationship stood me in good stead when he deteriorated further and needed help in the unfamiliar environment of a hospital and required input for his swallow.
This quote fits my client so well. As his disease progressed the very essence of him was still there right to the end and I love & respect him for that.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night