It is a therapeutic intervention in which the “medicines” are the words and whose final result is a small book containing life stories and above all, the profound existential messages of the person who is the protagonist. A single written document, to be offered subsequently to one or more selected recipients. I learned it in Canada, with its founder, Professor Harvey Chochinov, one of the founding fathers of palliative care worldwide. I find it an intervention of extraordinary power and beauty. I call my therapeutic proposal, based on Dignity Therapy, ‘Life ‘Footprints’. I had the honor of doing it with people very close to the moment of their death: a few days away – sometimes hours – from the moment of their passage, they chose this therapy, thus leaving a trace of themselves in black and white – and with many colors! A gift to oneself and to one’s loved ones, to transmit a spiritual heritage that helps those who stay and allow the person to leave lighter and extra filled with love.
Is this a therapy suitable only for those who are about to die? I don’t believe so. For those suffering an important and so-called ‘terminal’ disease, the value of the existential/spiritual legacy resonates especially strong (whether the person is conscious or not of the seriousness of their situation at a clinical level). It is no coincidence that palliative care is still the field in which Dignity Therapy is most used worldwide. Nowadays, however, given its adaptability and strength, it is more and more also in other sectors, used with people whose disease not necessarily carries a bad prognosis and more generally with people who have nothing at all to be healed, at least on a physical level. The point is: we must die to born again … and this is a tool that can help us a lot, when we are in a ‘crisis’, or rather in a life change, to say goodbye to that stage of our existence, make peace, let go and welcome the new cycle with openness, benevolence and clarity. This therapy facilitates the connection with our deepest essence, contacting and giving birth to a more alive and present version of ourselves.
I work as a therapist and as a teacher. Currently I have no institutional affiliation, I work with any person who requests it and as a teacher for health professionals (my latest course was promoted by the Order of Doctors of the Balearics, Spain).