Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Human Touch

Recently, I visited my relative whose mental illness is so severe that she was placed in our state mental hospital. She is angry, confused, and paranoid of almost everyone and everything. I prayed for wisdom, not knowing how to comfort her, and the thought came, "Rub her back."

I asked if she would like a back rub, and she responded, "Oh, that would feel so wonderful." As I massaged her back, she relaxed and the burdens of her illness, despair, and psychosis were eased. When I left, she appeared more happy and peaceful.

While visiting a dear friend who was recuperating from major cancer surgery, I wondered what I could do to ease her pain and anguish. Tubes, scars, and monitors encased her body, and the only unwounded spot was her face and head.

"Would you like a head massage?" I asked. She nodded, and as I rubbed her scalp and forehead, I noticed the tension lift from her body. That small act seemed to make a big difference for her.

When my father was dying, a neighbor appeared regularly to shave my dad. This barber's gentle touch eased my dad's suffering and was such a priceless gift. I doubt this many ever realized the impact his kindness had on my dad.

When my husband and I volunteered in a retirement branch, we were hugged at least ten times each time we went there by the old folks. That loving connection meant so much and bonded us to these elderly saints, who lived with such serenity amid suffering. While our intention as to bless others, we discovered that these frail souls blessed our lives ours more with their smiles, hugs, loving notes, and kind words.

Hugging our children and grandchildren, high-fiving a teen, caressing the check of the dying can be such a blessing. Appropriate human touch can bless the lives of those we serve. It can create peace amid sorrow.

© Carol Brown

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