16: The bitter-sweet moments of connection

This is a story about making a connection with a patient – and its kind of sad (am warning you in advance!)

As OT’s our assessments centre on meaningful occupation, and we often get wide ranging answers when we ask what our clients / patients enjoy.
Frequently for older adults it seems that TV is a common leisure activity – but not always one that holds special meaning, however…

Today I was talking to a lovely woman in her 90’s discussing, of all things, our mutual love of old UK TV shows that had us both trying to remember the name of a particular comedy show … it had Judi Dench in it … she played an ex-nurse opposite an actor who played an ex-solidier…. they were in love but never quite able to connect with each other properly until the last episode …. ANYWAYS …. I asked why she like it so much and she told me this:

It was her favourite show to watch with her late husband, who had passed away a few years ago after 60+ wonderful years together, they would laugh so much watching it, and they would repeat their favourite lines to each other occasionally and chuckle. She told me that even though it is painful she still watches the show and cries, that it hurts alot, but that it’s worth it to feel close to him again for a little while.
She looked me with tears in her eyes, and said “why, why would such a lovely man and husband be taken away from me? it doesn’t make sense! You can’t imagine how awful it is! it’s not right!”
As I sat there opposite her (with tears in my eyes too), I could think of no response that could ease her pain and simply reached out and held her hand.
We sat silently for a minute holding hands, shaking our heads slowly at how unfair it felt.
After a minute she sighed, looked up at me, patted my hand, and said ‘there, there my dear there are no answers to these questions – now how about we look for the name of that show’ and her moment of grief passed.

As I wound up our session, she thanked me for listening to her story and sharing her pain and patted my hand gently… and made me promise to Google the TV show, watch a preview and report back tomorrow!