The right to communicate

A comatose person is entitled to communication.

Coma. You might want to look at it as your body's way of protecting you from pain, whereas other important inner processes take place in another state of mind. A state in which an inner journey is made during the time the body needs to heal, in order to be able to return to a "normal" state of mind, consciousness, or a situation in which a life's final phase is happening, preparing the person for a peaceful passing. In both cases, one may assume the comatose person being isolated. His biggest fear will not be of dying, they'll probably be more afraid to be trapped, to be caught in between, captured in a negative and frightening situation with no escape route, or to be in an onerous situation where inner processes cannot be finalized. Here, connection and communication with another human being can provide much help and comfort, and often, the responses will be grateful.

We presume that a comatose person has the need, and most of all, the right to be in company, to have support, a connection, and communication, in which he for example can state being in agony, where it hurts, or maybe reveal fears or what's on his/her mind, and with what you could be of help to the person. Also, a comatose person needs communication to make opinions known about certain wanted or unwanted care or intervention, to have a voice in decisions about his care. Apart from helping to solve isolation, communication also allows them with an extensive ability. The ability to partake in decisions about wanted or unwanted care, including the way he/she would want these actions to take place.

Establishing a connection does not mean you have to focus exclusively on the waking up from coma, although of course, this will often occur. The most important is creating a loving and supporting connection, a friendship or a comradeship that may lead to finding the comatose person a way to express himself. This doesn't only concern a coma of which someone can wake up, this also serves as an important component of terminal care.

Don't push the contact. Be calm and respectful, keep introducing yourself over and over again, and ask for permission to be with the person, also ask permission to communicate. Pay close attention to all kinds of response, they'll probably be very small and subtle. When no response follows after trying for some time, try establishing a contact in other ways, keep in mind that someone who's in a coma might find it hard to find a way to send some sort of a signal. Do know, that the absence of consciousness varies in depth constantly, meaning there are moments in which a person is 'further away'.  These changes in this altered state of consciousness, need to be kept in account. Go with the flow.

The approach used above means that, according to our opinion, all of the medical equipment needed to maintain the life of a comatose person cannot be switched off, until every possible way of establishing contact has proven has been tried, even when the only reason there is, is to give a comatose person a voice in a decision about his medical care.

This website provides a guideline for communication and connecting with a person in a coma, starting with 10 essential points of interest for a first approach, followed by valuable tips for creating a connection. From there on we move ahead, to a set-up for primary communication, which is followed by information about forms of communication that are more intense.

Welcome to the peculiar world of altered consciousness.