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The hug she did not want to forget

We forget songs, loves and trips. Maybe, because they did not leave a deep impression on us. However, other gestures remain imprinted. This happened to Carmen, who, after the special treatment her husband received during the last days of his life at the San José Institute Foundation, decided to become a volunteer at the same center and not forget those hugs.
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armen Horcajuelo explains that, when she arrived at the San José Institute Foundation in Madrid, her husband had been suffering from terminal cancer for a long time and she was as exhausted as devastated. However, thanks to the psychosocial care teams (EAPS) of the center’s palliative care unit, both found rest at the end. “It’s a place with great hospitality”, Carmen tells us. “The whole team is very friendly, and they welcome people as if they were a great family. That helps a lot”.

There, Carmen’s husband enjoyed his last fifteen days taking walks, attending music therapy sessions and receiving care from the entire medical unit and its volunteers. With these needs covered, Carmen gained time to devote herself completely to the most essential thing: to be with him and to accompany him until the end.

Supported by the Program for Integral Attention to People with Advanced Diseases of Obra Social “la Caixa” and distributed in centers throughout the territory, EAPS offers all kinds of support to people who are at the end of their lives, and to their families. One of its services is the attention to the mourning offered by psychologists. Needless to say, there are so many different ways to live a mourning process as different people, but in the case of Carmen, it consisted above all in learning to put everything in place. “There is a hole in your heart where that person will always be and, from there, he will never escape”, she says, “but you also have to find your own space to be happy and to continue living“.

That happiness, Carmen found it in gratitude. A week after her husband died, she returned to the San José Institute Foundation: this time, to sign up as a volunteer and be able to do for others what they had done for her. “At the beginning, every day I left there wondering how I could be so happy”, she recalls, thinking of her first volunteer days, five years ago now.

Since then, Carmen has been commissioned to schedule films in the EspacioCaixa center, where the inmates enjoy leisure and conviviality time. She also talks a lot with them and, above all, she says, “I give them all my love, and I share lots of kisses”. Maybe what the poet once said is true: “nothing may free us from death, let’s allow love save our life”.

Text: Patri de Filippo
Illustration: Ricardo Macía

You can read more stories like this on ALMA, the social social media, a digital space devoted to the social field, which brings a new look at the present and the future of society, from an optimistic and diverse point of view, and from all the initiatives that “la Caixa” Foundation promote.