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Labour of caring in palliative care

02 February 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 2

The advent of caring for dying people can often serve as a constant reminder of the fragility of our own lives, provoking worry and anxiety. While we all know that death is a certainty, caring for dying people can bring this concept back to the forefront of our minds and, by extension, build on our existential threat, which penultimately shapes the psychological labour of caring.

Great thinkers like Martin Heidegger and Søren Kierkegaard have argued that we move from our natural day-to-day living without thinking of our existence, to being more mindful and aware of life and our need to exist. Hence, all attempts are made to preserve life. While thinking of our existence more consciously can be useful, it also means that we inevitably bring death to the forefront of our thought processes, which needs to be carefully balanced out with caring for others. Palliative care is notorious for exposing and reminding us about this through the people we care for on a daily basis. Admittedly, not talking about death does not, in itself, make us escape its inevitability. Therefore, our minds are perpetually disturbed by this elusive phenomenon in the form of death, with a potential negative effect on how we care for the dying.

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