“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.” - Sigmund Freud
"Daddy will help you complete the junior high school registration! I'll also buy the uniform for you, don't give up. " Xiao-Xun's father was a visitor to the Peace-of-Mind Online Meeting Room, which was recently launched by the Taichung Veterans General Hospital's hospice team as an online video calling service. His 12-year-old daughter Xiao-Xun was admitted to the intensive care unit due to a severe brain injury and unstable condition, and since the severe COVID-19 pandemic affected visits, his family could not see her in the hospital every day. As a result, the short times they have on the video call became the most precious moments for the entire family.
Communication technology in isolation wards
While reading a picture book by the bedside at Taichung Veterans General Hospital, art therapist, Ms. Hua-Wen Wang observed that Xiao-Xun had more emotional and physical reactions to parent-child related stories or movies. Ms. Wang observes, "Even if she couldn't express herself verbally anymore, she must have been missing her father very much in her heart!" In order to comfort Xiao-Xun, the Peace-of-Mind Online Meeting Room for the father and daughter was started.
During the video conference, Xiao-Xun's father always told her about the current situation at home and their thoughts and concerns about her from her family. The familiar voice gave Xiao-Xun a great sense of security as can be seen when her condition was more stable, she would open up her eyes and look at her father on the video screen. She even tried to reach out her hand to touch the screen, perhaps hoping to feel the warmth from her father.
Ms. Hua-Wen Wang also invited the teachers and classmates of Xiao-Xun's elementary school to record a few messages and play them by the bedside to cheer her on. "Xiao-Xun, we all miss you so much! Don't give up! When you come back to school, we'll have class and play together!" "Xiao-Xun, this is Yi-Chen. You have to get well soon. Let's go to junior high school together."
Peace-of-Mind Online Meeting Room
Negative emotions are not uncommon during the pandemic prevention period, butwhether it is the loneliness and helplessness of hospitalized patients, or the anxiety, loss and guilt of family members due to the inability to visit their loved ones, they have to be temporarily silenced under the premise of pandemic prevention as a top
priority. This kind of helplessness is especially evident in terminal patients who are approaching the end of their lives.
Saddened about people's anxiety and fear of not being able to see their loved ones for the last time, Ms. Hua-Wen Wang and the team's psychologists jointly started the Peace-of-Mind Online Meeting Room through the use of video or telephone andother communication technologies to keep patients and their families in contact with one another. It helped to maintain heartfelt company for them under the strict pandemic isolation policies.
Such online meetings also accompanied Xiao-Xun all the way to the end of her life. Under the guidance of Ms. Hua-Wen Wang, Xiao-Xun's father grasped tightly and emotionally during the last moments of his daughter's life, and expressed gratitude, love, apology, and farewell to Xiao-Xun through the technology which enabled these moments.
"Thank you, Xiao-Xun, for being your father's beloved daughter for twelve years. Please don't blame your father for helping you decide to donate your corneas. I hope you can contribute to society and help people in need. From now on you are free from illness and are a free and happy little angel.”
In addition to his blessings, the father also said goodbye to his daughter: "Goodbye Xiao-Xun. You'll be the eyes of others in the future. Don't be naughty and make fun of others!" Although there is no way to be with his daughter anymore, with the aid of the Peace-of-Mind Online Meeting Room, the father and the daughter could live and die without regrets, which is also the greatest comfort for the hospice team.
Are you OK? I miss you
The father of six-year-old Xiao-Wei and three-year-old Xiao-Kai was a terminal patient with oral cancer. He usually received hospice and palliative care at home.The team not only took care of the father, but also always paid attention to whether the two young children could face and adjust to the impact from their father's departure. Due to pandemic prevention regulations, Ms. Hua-Wen Wang, who had been caring about the family for a long time, could no longer visit them with the team because of Covid-19 pandemic. The work of guiding the children to face the father's illness, constructing the concept of death step by step, and the art therapy for loss and grief had to be temporarily suspended.
Just after the patient passed away, the family found that Xiao-Wei became more and more depressed. When he saw his mother crying, he would still be sensitive and uneasy. So when the home hospice team carried out care for the bereaved,the family took the initiative to seek assistance. With children who are not good at expressing themselves in words, art therapy can help them resolve their inner conflicts and enhance their self-knowledge and expression. In addition, in the process of artistic creation, non-verbal communication methods are also less threatening, especially suitable for children whose language abilities are still in the developing stage. Therefore, Ms. Wang decided to use video calls to invite Xiao-Wei and Xiao-Kai to come to have an online art meeting.
Ms. Wang sent a large package of creative art materials to their home. The gift-likepackage brought a long-expected smile to Xiao-Wei's and his brother Xiao-Kai's face. After getting online at the arranged time, Ms. Wang read the picture book What Happens Next? and chatted with Xiao-Wei about issues like: “Whom did Dad meet after he went to heaven? What do they do together? What will Dad become to protect us?" Under the guidance of Ms. Wang, the brothers gradually became able to talk in the language levels of their respective ages and share the details of the life they had with their father.It also opened Xiao-Wei's heart so he could talk about his dad's sickness and passing,something he once previously refused to engage in conversation.
Then, Ms. Wang led the children to use the art supplies to make artistic creations as a way to express their memory of their father.Xiao-Wei made a Spider-Man out of clay and said, "This is what Dad changed into to protect Mom, me, and my younger brother,but because he also has to protect other people, he was too busy to come home."
"Then let's help Spider-Man Dad make a tent like the one you had when you went camping, so that he can have a good rest when he is tired," replied Ms. Wang. The sadness and farewell that children cannot speak out is kneading into every piece of their creative works of painting, clay, colored paper, fur balls, and etc., commemorating their father.
Unfinished art for the pandemic marathon
The COVID-19 pandemic is a marathon that has hit the world by surprise and still has no fifinished line in sight. Countless people's lives have been forced to changeand adapt suddenly. Many industries have also stagnated under the pandemic prevention policies and some have even closed due to their inability to operate profifitably. This has been a huge blow and predicament to people's livelihood and economy. The whole society, due to its anxiety about disease and death, may not be able to go back to the past, but needs to develop a new normal for the future. At the same time, the hope of spreading care and blessings has also been restricted by the pandemic.
Art therapy has the characteristics of non-verbal communication and expression,combined with the application of psychotherapy in video communication and interaction with patients, family members, and survivors. Even during the isolation period, the team is still providing the warmest and strongest support with available means, so that mutual love has not been hindered by the pandemic.