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I spend quite some time in the hospital these days. My father is sick and needs to be taken care of. Many people come by while I’m sitting in his room. Nurses, doctors, transfer nurses, nurses who bring food, visitors, specialists, interns, cleaners and a few more. Pretty hectic if you’re not feeling well and miss the overview. What strikes me most is the difference how people relate to him. Some are joking and playful and very aligned to his needs. They are able to build a relationship in a very short time. Are present to what he understands and what not, take some rest in explaining things and are fine if it’s silent for a few seconds.

But most people bring their own stress into the room. They are hurried, talk too fast for someone who doesn’t hear well, need to repeat themselves and instead of being silent for a few seconds, keep talking. And those words they need to repeat again because my father doesn’t understand them and then he comes to the conclusion they were not important or the caregiver says ‘never mind’ realizing the words were not important herself. I am struck by the value of inner peace. And the lack of it. The caregivers would benefit immensely from some mindfulness practice. What’s new since many years ago when I frequented the hospital for my mother, is that these days the nurses dare to give feedback to the physician: ‘Mister would like to see you, so maybe you can stand in front of him?’

Next to the inner peace of the caregivers the inner peace of the patient is something to deal with. How come that we never talk about that? Many of us have the experience of parents or good friends who are falling away. The intensity of what is happening is enormous. The capacity to talk about it or to create time to have a dialogue is minimal. Strange isn’t it?

Isn’t under all our fears of climate change, Trump, refugees, economic crisis our fear of death? I’m reading the Denial of Death and re-reading The Tibetan book of living and dying. Especially the last book is interesting. It gives a very specific description how to die, if you’re in the lucky circumstances that you can experience it consciously… Inner peace is essential and then it’s even possible to become enlightened -in an instant.

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