As I leave this morning to give a massage to a client who is in the late stages of cancer, I recall a man I had worked with some years ago with a terminal brain tumour. He did not have long to live and as he approached death – the acceptance, the surrender and healing that were happening for him, unfolded more each time I saw him.
My mother suffered from dementia, and she came to a point when she no longer recognized me or knew my name. Having a conversation about what had happened that day only created confusion for her, she no longer could differentiate between a dreaming and waking state and her recollections were decades old, like the present could not be registered or fully fathomed. I used to hold her hands and then gently massage them, and the feeling between us re-awakened and soon she was calling me daughter again. It was as if she knew who I was again through touch alone.
What I learnt from my Mum was that dementia might strip away the normal neurological functioning but underneath that is the foundational love that we are all made of and nurturing touch supports a reconnection to that innate state.
Could it be that many of us become very far removed from safe and nurturing touch – especially as we grow older?
We embrace and cuddle children but as we get older we become more and more removed from one and another. How much harm does this do?