Reiki in Hospice
Typically we think of Reiki as a healer and balancer but when we are dying how does that play out? What is healed and what is balanced when the body is succumbing to disease or the effects of old age? Do we balance energy centers? Do we only focus on areas of pain?
Hospice is called a philosophy and not a place as the team can come to homes, hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living. The hospice interdisciplinary team can consist of spiritual counselor, doctor, social worker, pet therapist, massage therapist, music therapist, energy therapist and even occupational and physical therapists. Mental health professionals are assigned in special cases of deep depression, denial, etc. Respite volunteers are also available.
I began my experience with hospice after reading the poetry of John O’Donohue. He talks about the honor that it ours when we assist someone into the next life. In my two years of working with the system of Reiki for a local hospice and palliative care system I have been blessed to see the profound benefit of having Reiki therapy available for those who are transitioning from this world to the next.
The answer to the questions posed above is to do what we always do in the system of Reiki: use intuition, listen to what people need, and follow our inner guidance. I use a protocol with the dying especially as they are closer to the end of life. Beginning at the soles of the feet and working up to the crown (paying attention to where the patient has pain and where you are guided to use Reiki) I spend at least 10 minutes at the crown as that helps to release the rootedness to this earth. It assists in the letting go process that occurs throughout the journey towards releasing into the next life.
Energetic balancing can be beneficial when someone is in the early stages of hospice. We want them to slowly pull up the roots but in the meantime we want to maintain energy balance and minimizing of pain so that the quality of the death journey is one of peace.
Reiki is especially beneficial for pain and nausea. This occurs in part because the patient becomes more relaxed which helps medication to work more effectively. I saw a woman go from agony to sleep within 30 minutes and she slept three hours one day and six hours the next. This was very unusual for her to be at this relaxed state. Pain can also be caused by stuck emotions which Reiki can help release.
In dying there is an incremental releasing of ego, will, emotions, memories, body, mind and spirit. For some stuck in anger and denial this can increase pain and the need for intense medications. One such patient was predicted to die in about 4 days but because she was in denial about her death and had resentment and anger and frustration toward her mother (as stated by her husband) it took two weeks…in fact it was not until the mother came and spoke to her unconscious daughter that she was able to let go.
Sometimes Reiki surprises us with the release. An elderly man was assigned to hospice in his nursing home. He had had a stroke and heart attack and was doing pretty well. In fact there was talk that perhaps a different care was needed and not hospice. After using Reiki on several joint pain issues I went ahead and did the crown of his head. He died three days later and surprised everyone in doing so. That was his real desire: to release. For some just having their loved ones tell them it is ok to release can ignite that desire to transition within hours. Again, this can sometimes be surprising to those who have been the caretakers.
Deciding to use the system of Reiki in hospice is a very personal one and each practitioner needs to consider why they are doing it and if they can observe and be compassionate without becoming emotionally entangled. Doing your own regular Reiki practice will help keep the Reiki practitioner balanced. It is an honor to help someone to die. It is a privilege to have the gift of Reiki to help them do so.