Acupuncture and the End of Life Process

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As I sit every Monday, treating my husband’s grandfather, Pepere, at the end of his life, I have come to realize the vital role acupuncture can play at the end of someone’s life. It is poignant to recognize that Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupucture see the body and the spirit connected and that one wthout the other can not occur. Yin and yang must live within each other, fading in and out of each other, feeding each other in order for the balance to occur. At the end of our lives, that precious balance becomes more unsteady, with yin or yang becoming weaker or stronger. At the last hours of our lives, yin and yang will separate. This is when the spirit will leave the physical body for there is nothing left to anchor it down. The spirit will go to the next place/person and the cycle will start anew. I remember a teacher of mine once say, “If you want to treat children and truly understand them, you must work with the hospice population and help those spirits move onto the next place.”

So, when I did some research on acupuncture points to do for Pepere, I asked many collegues and found many websites. Made my notes and went with peace of mind to his house, knowing that the bottom line was that the best points to use were going to be determined by him. I knew I needed to nurture the emotions, calm any anxiety that might be present, relieve depression, and balance grief. I also knew he had frequently been telling us that his friends in heaven kept coming for him but that when he went to go pick up his bags, they were gone. Clearly, it wasn’t his time to go yet. Now, they come minus one…his wife. He knows that when she comes for him, it will be time.

It is the role of the Lungs and the Liver to help those at the end of their life find resolution with unfinished business, rectify the Qi, forgive themselves and others, letting go of this life in order to move onto the new life. Thus, focusing on those two organ systems are key but here are a few other points to consider:

BL 60 is good for movements that are painful, inability to walk, fullness in the chest.

LU 3 has been the best point to help him ‘talk to others in another realm’. This one calmed his anxiety when they would come but leave.

LU8/KD7 combined is good for treating the chronic Kidney deficiency with Lung congestion.

ST 36 is good for weakness and emaciation that occur with aging.

GV 20 is great for connecting the spirit with the heavenly Qi/Universe while also helping to support anything sinking.

I find solace in knowing that although the end of life process may occur in a short or long period of time, that Pepere is receiving the care that he needs and acupuncture is playing a vital role in that process. One day, he whispered into my ear, “I am sad to have to go and leave you guys but I am looking forward to seeing my wife and friends again soon…”

If you ever get the opportunity to work with hospice patients at the end of life, you will forever be changed…for the better.