There’s an expression in medicine that I’ve always loved. It is, “To cure sometimes, relieve often and comfort always.” This simple adage is as grounding as it is inspirational.
As I sit by my sister’s bedside following a twelve hour, complex surgery, I have an even greater appreciation for the importance of comfort for both her and me. Like many family members, it’s difficult to see a loved one in pain, and it leaves us feeling helpless.
It’s comforting to know that the medical care is being well managed. The staff is competent, confident and caring, but I have a need to do something – anything that will help provide comfort. By engaging me in basic comfort measures, I am now a part of the care team rather than a helpless spectator. I can provide cool cloths to her inflamed skin and swab her dry mouth. I can massage her feet or just hold her hand. By doing something to comfort her; I the caregiver am also comforted.