Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hospice and Palliative Haiku

Photo by Flick user Isidro Cea 
While we often go to great lengths to explain what hospice and palliative care is about to families, patients and our peers, it is important to find the beauty in simplicity.  Haiku are a great exercise in editing and restraint in conveying your message with brevity and density.   On Twitter I happened to come across this haiku from an ER nurse

Helping people die.
Enemas and Foley caths.
Things I've been thanked for.

Jason Hautala is the ER nurse/author who recently published a book, Haiku Stat! compiling some of his best and most poignant work.  The article in Emergency Medicine News explains that this act of creation is really an avenue to channel the emotions, frustrations and difficulties he and his colleagues see in the ER.  It is nice to see self-care as a concern beyond palliative clinicians!  

So I challenged Pallimed followers on Twitter and Facebook to contribute some of their own haiku.  (Haikus for the uninitiated are short poems using a 5-7-5 syllable structure.) Here is a sample:

Never say 'no hope'
We help the sick shift their hopes
To hope in comfort

Palliation treats

Body, heart, mind and spirit
More than pain relief

End of life is like

Touching down on the tarmac
We guide smooth landings

- DF

Care for our elders

Supporting life until death
Learning all life long

-HDL

Like to talk to folks

Like listening even more?
Why I love hospice.

-CTS
Cared for by a team

Fam'ly and community
I go not alone

- VH

Cancer blossoming.

Lungs are red fields of poppies.
In the end Morphine.

-LC

Bleeding from his mouth

D'you want to be more sleepy?
I asked. He nodded

- KS

New diagnosis - scary

Chose palliative care
Relief for me and family.

- PH

Losses never lost
What we love: always with us
Becoming who we are

- KO

Eyes closed breathing slow
Family discussing will
I can still hear you!

-SL

I wish I was off.
Phone rings. I go, give my best.
A death: empathy.

I chose it, hospice:
Dying as part of work day.
I learn: Enjoy life.

- MFM


"Will I die tonight?".
A nurse pauses, remembering.
A dead reckoning.

- HB

Try this out as a team activity, and feel free to post your own in the comments, on twitter (#HPMHaiku), or on our Facebook page.  Maybe if we get enough, we could make a book too!