A Christmas message from the European Association for Palliative Care

phil Head shotProfessor Philip Larkin, President of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC)

Tradition is an important issue. Especially at Christmas (if you celebrate it), traditions in our society, culture and families become all the more evident, although variable; the day we actually celebrate Christmas is not the same. For some, Christmas Eve is the important event, for others Christmas Day, and for yet others, Christmas does not come until January.

candleWhether people celebrate Christmas as a religious or secular festival, I am sure each of your families has their own traditions that mark the event. And somehow, when those little traditions are remembered and treasured across generations, they help us to re-connect with those we care about and for. Christmas gives us a time to reflect on the things that are important in life and, indeed, for the patients and families we serve in whatever capacity, the joy of Christmas can be a mixed blessing, a time of sadness as well as joy. For some of you, your Christmas will be shared with patients and families through clinical work. A tradition that many cultures value at this time of year is the lighting of candles. Perhaps, as we light the candles, we can keep in mind our colleagues who continue the tradition of Cicely Saunders at Christmas time – ‘Watch with Me’.

Seven months into the role of President, the value of respecting tradition and welcoming diversity is still a message that I believe the EAPC continues to uphold. On behalf of the organisation, I continue to seek opportunities to share the vision which those before me created and developed and find ways to shape a future for the EAPC that is dynamic and confirms our position as a world leader in the clinical, academic and political domains of contemporary palliative care.

Of course, this is not down to one person and the first meeting of the new Board of Directors of the EAPC in Dublin earlier this year brought together a group of committed individuals who equally respect our traditions and value the opportunity that change can bring. It has been a busy time too for Julie as CEO, providing leadership for that change, helping us to redefine our structures and strengthen our governance. The year 2016 will be a call to action for the board in defining our strategy 2016-2019. As things unfold (as should happen in any planned change), we will keep you informed of progress and seek your feedback wherever possible.

The New Year brings infinite possibilities for us all. We will have the 9th EAPC World Research Congress in Dublin in June and continue to plan for the 15th World Congress in Madrid in 2017. The social media team are a hive of activity in gathering and disseminating news and views and, of course, we continue to lead in the production of papers and articles that help to consolidate our position as an opinion leader in the field. The very recent publication of the paper on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is one example of this, but there are many excellent examples of our engagement with the clinical scientific and academic communities and we continue to be productive and responsive. Our thanks to all those who have worked on our behalf to contribute to the dialogue on palliative care.

And so, as President, and on behalf of Julie, Amelia, Silvana, the Board of Directors and the social media team, I hope that you all have some opportunity to share in the traditions of your community wherever you are this Christmas. We wish you a peaceful and joy-filled Christmas and hope that the New Year brings happiness and health to you all.

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in my Irish tradition!


The EAPC Blog is now taking a break for the festive season, but we’ll be back on Monday 4 January 2016. Our very sincere thanks for contributing and following us throughout the year – we wish you all happiness, health and peace.  

This entry was posted in EAPC ACTIVITIES, EAPC Board Members and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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