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Resilient Hearts is a film based on a novel of the same name I wrote in 2015 to share experiences encountered by members of a hospital team that care for the terminally ill and dying. This special form of medicine is called Palliative Care. I realized many healthcare providers did not know what we provided and the community was even less informed. I wanted to educate in a way that was both entertaining and informative. I felt a film would reach a broader audience and could be a tool to promote discussions about effective ways to communicate, the need for compassion, and show the difference a dedicated Palliative Care team can make in the lives of patients and their families.
Palliative Care is a new branch of medicine designed to bring back the communication and the humanity often missing in today’s technology based health care. Our focus is to help with symptom management and to address the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs of patients and families affected by illness. You do not need to be dying to benefit from palliative care, but the need for our services seems to be the greatest for the terminally ill and dying.
I found in my role as a Nurse Practitioner on a Palliative Care team not only included providing emotional and physical support of patients and families dealing with death and dying, but I also needed to include the medical staff and members of the Palliative Care team. It can be difficult to work with sadness and loss on a daily basis without it taking an emotional toll.
I wrote Resilient Hearts to emphasize the importance of humor and playfulness, and to remind us that it is one of our greatest coping mechanisms. It can provide a means for a patient to retain one’s dignity, regain self-control, and to feel “normal”, even if it is only for a few moments. I do not use humor to make light of the sadness and loss experienced during the dying process, rather I want to show the importance of making personal contact and helping them enjoy the time they have.
The final journey our terminally ill and dying patients travel can be transformed to a loving and often joyful experience that family members will cherish. Death does not need to be dark and frightening if we can talk about it openly and work to make every moment special. This is what I want to convey in Resilient Hearts. Love and laughter can co-exist with loss and heart-ache.