Our Presence Is Enough

By Lori Moffett

I was filled with excitement and dread on my first day as an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist at Wexner Heritage Village. If I am honest, a shade more dread than excitement. My nerves were getting the best of me. The chatter in my mind was non-stop. All I could think was: “What have I gotten myself into? Am I really cut out for this work? In hospice of all places? Am I crazy?”

I got out of my car on a cold, dreary and grey Ohio winter’s day. I took three deep breaths, walked very slowly to Zusman Hospice and entered through the sliding glass doors, not knowing that my life would be changed forever.

I introduced myself to the staff on duty that morning and explained in more detail about what I was there to do, which was, and still is, to provide support for the patients, family caregivers and the staff.

Nickette, Wendy and Dr. Lena were thrilled that I was there and extremely supportive and kind. They answered all my questions. I was told to visit a gentleman in room four who had flown in from Wisconsin to be with his actively dying mother.

I walked quietly into room four. I could hear the buzz of the television on low and the shallow breath of the elderly woman who was actively dying. In the corner, I saw her adult son sitting in the corner looking exhausted after a long night of travel. From our conversation it was clear how much the son loved and cared for his beautiful mother, lying peacefully in her bed.

An ex-football player, the son broke into tears partly from exhaustion, partly from worry and partly from anxiety with the dying process. He had no idea what any of the self-care modalities I had to offer him were. “I am willing to try anything,” he said, “so, I can be here for mother.”

We worked together for an hour focusing on three of the side effects caregivers deal with—anxiety, insomnia and exhaustion. After our time together, he said, “I have never felt this way before. I feel like I slept for an hour, but it was better then sleep. I feel like, now, I can be with mother. Thank you.”

Then it clicked for me. In my time with this man I realized that my presence was enough. If I listen deeply with my entire being when I care for people as an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist, the rest will unfold. It’s about doing my best to serve the person in front of me, in that moment. Nothing more, nothing less, but listening with my entire being.

From this experience, I know how important it is for the family caregiver to have a few self-care tools, so we can all be there for our mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife or friend. Our presence is enough.

Lori Moffett has been practicing Urban Zen Integrative Therapy at Wexner Heritage Village since January and will be one of the lead teachers of the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Training to begin in September.  Lori also teaches an Urban Zen Drop In class at Yoga on High on Mondays at 12:30p and Wednesdays at 5:45p.