Recently I spoke about intimacy at the end of life and I mentioned eye contact which reminded me of an experience I had when caring for an older lady with end stage dementia which I thought I would share with you.
On one particular day I was sat beside this lady as she lay in bed, holding and stroking her hand.
Between moments of confusion, anxiety, restlessness and sleep she turned her face towards mine and our eyes locked.
We held each other’s gaze for several minutes.
Neither of us spoke and I remember noticing the gentleness and loving in her eyes.
We held that gentle gaze for a while until she said “Thank you” and as I smiled and thanked her in return she lapsed back into confusion and restlessness.
This moment of tenderness was such a stark contrast to just an hour earlier where, at the sight of me, she screamed in terror wondering who I was and why I was there.
For me, in the moment where our eyes were gazing at each others, it felt as if we were sharing a deep part of ourselves that couldn’t be reached any other way – it was quite profound.