1. Ferrell, Betty PhD, RN, MA, FAAN, FPCN CHPN

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I have been inspired in my home town of Los Angeles by the work of Jesuit Priest, Father Gregory Boyle, who for over 30 years has lead Homeboy Industries supporting gang members. Father Boyle has taught the world a great deal about the power of compassion and reconciliation. In an earlier editorial I wrote about what I have learned about suffering from his work and his first book, Tattoos on the Heart.


In his new book Barking to the Choir - The Power of Radical Kinship, he writes about the importance of human connection. Once again I find myself reading about his compassion for social justice and gangs and thinking about our work in reforming a health care system to provide palliative care. Father Boyle cites the 14th century mystic, Dame Julian of Norwich, who said that "the truest and most authentic spiritual life is one that produces awe, humility and love." He suggests however that awe often is ignored yet "we are our healthiest when we are situated in awe[horizontal ellipsis] standing at the margins with the broken reminds us not of our own superiority, but of our own brokenness[horizontal ellipsis] Awe is the great leveler. The embrace of our own suffering helps us to find spiritual intimacy with ourselves and others. For if we don't welcome our own wounds, we will be tempted to despise the wounded."


The kinship of palliative nursing is also one worthy of awe. It is a story of nurses caring for very wounded patients and families, but also confronting our own woundedness in doing this work. Providing spiritual care requires us to face our own spirituality. Lifting the frail, emaciated elder from a commode requires us to glimpse at our own future frailty. Comforting the parents of a recently deceased child will require us to allow ourselves to see the faces of all the other parents we have comforted and to be in touch with those we ourselves hold dearly and could lose. The thin veil between the comforter and comforted is ever present in palliative care.


This issue of the journal is once again a reflection of our profession. Hold this issue and you hold a mirror to the sacred work of nursing care of the seriously ill and to our radical kinship. The titles on the cover of the journal alone are a reflection of this "very humble work", as in the words of Mother Teresa, dementia in long term care, mothers' grief after loss of a newborn, and also papers which have dared to explore the nature and meaning of palliative nursing.


The authors in this issue are sharing deep human experiences- pregnancy during serious illness, religious or cultural factors in brain death, and extending palliative care into populations such as hemotologic malignancies and end stage renal disease.


I am in awe of the work of these authors and the care described in these papers. I am also very proud to be a member of this gang we call palliative nursing.



Betty Ferrell, PhD, RN, MA, FAAN, FPCN CHPN




The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose