“Silence is golden… but duct tape is cheaper”!

“Silence is golden… but duct tape is cheaper”!

Life & Death Matters Post

One of the things I love about summer is early mornings in the garden and the silence.  The only sounds are the birds, and depending on the weather, the wind and the ocean at a distance. For someone who loves silence… I sure like to talk!  And for one who likes to talk, it is not surprising to know that I am one of many who find silence in conversation difficult!

On a store wall in cottage country in Ontario, a few large wall plaques caught my interest:

“Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder… and your hand over my mouth”

“Silence is golden… but duct tape is cheaper”.

Oh, how I relate!

Image courtesy of Sasha Lees

In her online course “Compassionate Communication” Elizabeth Causton teaches that

  “Many people associate silence with emptiness or absence, when in fact it is full of presence: there is always something going on in the spaces between our words and actions.

Embracing silence is a conscious clearing of space for whatever needs to happen there and it seems to require some degree of trust in ourselves, in another person, or of the situation itself in order for us to give up the control of that space long enough to let something manifest.

Good communication is often seen as a skill, but compassionate communication that includes mindfulness and presence in times of silence is an art.

Silence as a form of art.  Wonderful thought.  Silence that gives the other person the control on when to end the silence.  Silence that enriches the conversation by its’ very presence.

I continue to learn from Elizabeth about the nuances and power of communication in palliative care. I encourage you to wander over and look at her online course in October. The compassionate communication skills in the course are useful for life itself and not just for the dying parts.

Silence.  Sounds of silence my old friend… Can you hear it?

6 Responses

    1. Thank you, and yes, silence, attentive silence is soooooo important. Which I believe requires the focus to moving away from trying to cure. Elizabeth Causton teaches about “being rather than doing” in caregiving.

    2. Hi Melody!
      How is life at “Transformingspace.com”? I appreciate your note here. Much is accomplished by silence. Silence is not void, it opens the door for many possibilities. Silence is the golden place where everyone shares space.
      I think of the work that you do, where you support people to transform space so that they can create and work to their potential. Interesting that this particular topic caught your eye… as it is in the silence that we take time to consider whether we open the door and clear out issues that are of concern, or chose to hold on to them and cope with them in private. THoughts?

  1. I am Representative for a younger man with severe M.S. and dementia. Since we both have some background with Quakers (me much more than him), the concept of being quietly present is something that he is familiar with — whereas many people would not be. He is generally someone who is uncomfortable with touching (primarily because he is afraid of it hurting). Over time, we have built a relationship in which it is OK for me to touch him constantly when we visit (gentle stroking on his arm). Part of this is for him to build a relationship with touch that is different from the medical/facility practical care touching; and part of it is so that when his disease progresses to the point of him not being able to communicate at all (or even fully recognize the presence of another), I (hopefully)will have built up a relationship with him where he can recognize my touch as me being present with him.

    1. I really appreciate your story. It highlights and reminds me that in some cases silence may not be a choice, but instead silence is present because conversation is impossible.

      Warm regards


    2. Hi Pashta,
      Interesting “intervention” to establish a relationship of touch so that your touch will be recognized if and when his ability to speak or hear decreases.

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Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

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