Compassion fatigue is real, but this hospital's approach might just be the antidote.

Musician Terrie Miley always wears a smile. What makes her unique is who she smiles for, and how she keeps it up.

As a hospice musician, Miley’s everyday work involves going to see patients who are in their final hours and using music as a way to help people tell their stories. "The story of their lives," as she puts it.  

Image via Dignity Health/Upworthy.


While many of us would do anything to avoid the idea of coming face-to-face with our own mortality or sharing space with a total stranger who is on the brink of death, Miley has chosen to face it every single day in hopes of bringing them peace in their final hours.

Most people who volunteer walk away with the knowledge that they’ve made a difference; Miley walks away knowing that she has just said goodbye.

But with such intense emotional labor comes the need for self-care.

For Miley and her colleagues at Dignity Health, the team decided to enact a mindfulness program consisting of meditation and breathing exercises to help their employees feel present during those long, hard hours on the job.

The premise for this program is a simple but powerful one: To be compassionate towards others, we first have to be compassionate toward ourselves — if only for a few minutes.

For hospice workers like Miley, then, finding moments of pause gives them the peace and attention needed to do this work in a healthy way.

And when it's built into the work culture, this kind of reflection isn't just an afterthought. It's a practice, and it's one that's transforming how caregivers like Miley approach their jobs.

How do they do it? Have a look for yourself:

This program helps you focus on the now. And the effects on your health can be enormous.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Miley knows better than anyone that while helping these patients is rewarding, it can take a mental and emotional toll on caregivers.

When offering the humble gift of musical bliss and human connection, it’s not always easy being confronted with life’s biggest hurdle: death.

"Hospice is challenging work, in ways that you might not consider," Miley explains.

Because Miley’s job description includes being present for those who don’t have loved ones in their final hours, it requires a level of emotional investment that she has to sustain in every moment of her work.

Whether it's a guided meditation after lunch or a walking meditation on a break, these moments of reflection make all the difference for caregivers like Miley, who too easily forget themselves while caring for others.

For Miley, it’s a reminder of why we need to slow down during the daily grind.

Life is short, and while that knowledge may sit in the back of our minds, it’s important to remember that our day-to-day existence is about so much more than work.

Miley's story is an important reminder that for every connection we offer to others, it's just as important to pause and reconnect with ourselves.

To make this work sustainable, then, mindfulness is everything.

"When you’re in hospice, it is definitely about the moment. It is about being present with that person and creating healing in that moment," said Heidi Summers, senior director of mission integration and education at Dignity Health.

Miley puts it best when she says, "Being present is the only thing that matters."

Family
True
Dignity Health 2017
Rice University

A plaque marking the death of a glacier comes with a haunting message to future generations.

The former Okjökull glacier in western Iceland is the first to lose its status as a glacier due to climate change. Known now as simply "Ok," the once sprawling ice sheet has melted to about seven percent of what it was a century ago and was declared no longer a glacier in 2014.

Scientists predict that in the next 200 years, if the climate crisis is not mitigated, the rest of Iceland's 400 glaciers will meet the same fate.

Next month, the land that Ok once covered will be marked with a memorial plaque. Researchers from Rice University in Houston, Texas, Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason, and geologist Oddur Sigurðsson—who first declared the glacier's lost status—will unveil the plaque in a public ceremony on August 18.

The plaque's text begins, "A letter to the future," then reads:

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
Photo by Raul Varzar on Unsplash

A quarter of domestic cats have had their claws removed. Even though it might make the owners lives a little easier, the procedure can be incredibly painful for the animals and has been described as "barbaric."

Most of Europe and Canada have banned cat declawing (onychectomy), as well as several U.S. cities, but New York just became the first state to do so. Now, any vet who declaws a cat in the there will face a fine of $1,000, unless the procedure is medically necessary.

"Declawing is a cruel and painful procedure that can create physical and behavioral problems for helpless animals, and today it stops," New York GovernorAndrew Cuomo saidin a statement, per USA Today.

Some people get their cat declawed to stop their furniture and flesh from being destroyed. However, declawing a cat isn't the best way to stop a cat from scratching. In fact, it's probably the worst. "If a person has an issue with a cat scratching, well, first of all, I'd advise them don't get a cat because that is the very nature of a cat. But, secondly, there are ways to change cats' behavior. Get scratching posts. There are vinyl sheathes that could be placed on the nails," Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said. Rosenthal sponsored the bill and is a cat owner, herself. "[T]here's many ways to address that behavior." None of the ways you address the problem should include taking it's claws off.

Keep Reading Show less
Cities
Alie Ward

Your dinner plate shouldn't shame you for eating off of it. But that's exactly what a set being sold at Macy's did.

The retailer has since removed the dinnerware from their concept shop, Story, after facing social media backlash for the "toxic message" they were sending.

The plates, made by Pourtions, have circles on them to indicate what a proper portion should look like, along with "helpful — and hilarious — visual cues" to keep people from "overindulging."

There are serval different styles, with one version labeling the largest portion as "mom jeans," the medium portion as "favorite jeans," and the smallest portion as "skinny jeans."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

In today's installment of the perils of being a woman, a 21-year-old woman shared her experience being "slut-shamed" by her nurse practitioner during a visit to urgent care for an STD check.

The woman recently had sex with someone she had only just met, and it was her first time hooking up with someone she had not "developed deep connections with."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being