Forum on Spirituality and Cultivating an Authentic Presence

  • by Maria Lopez
  • March 11, 2024

On Tuesday 5th of March, at the East Maitland Bowling Club, palliative care volunteers, volunteer managers, nurses, and others interested in end of life care attended Spirituality and Cultivating an Authentic Presence forum.

Spirituality is a fundamental element of human experience. It encompasses an individual’s search for meaning and purpose in life and their experience of the Sacred. Such contemplations are not uncommon for patients and their carers facing the challenges of end of life.

Presented by Kate Englebrecht, discussion centred on what it means to cultivate an authentic presence while supporting people to navigate through their own personal fears and experiences of spiritual darkness.

Kate has lectured in spirituality and been a Chaplain for many years. She knows something of what it means to face her own ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ and knows how profoundly it matters to feel seen, heard, known, accepted, and cared for.

Attendees were prompted to reflect on what it means to be present with another as they experience life’s most challenging moments. Using poetry, participants explored what it takes to allow another to speak their truth, sharing some fears and reservations about dying, and the challenges of illness and suffering.

Volunteers were challenged to listen more during their support visits, both to words and to silence.

Recognising the value of holding space and being present with clients was a key outcome.

Feedback from participants was very positive. Many found the session has encouraged them to be more understanding and mindful of client’s needs. The forum also brought awareness about the need to take care of oneself in order to be ready to look after others with care and compassion.

Photo: Dungog Shire Palliative Care Volunteers (top) and Volunteers for Palliative Care Maitland (bottom) 

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