Nobody thinks it will happen to them. We look around at our loved ones or our friends and we are don’t often think of them dying. We see them call mom, vibrant and alive. Death is such a difficult topic because it seems to be the one large issue that our minds never grasp. It’s forever. Nobody has ever come back. Well, you’re a biblical scholar, Peter‘s mother and Lazarus are two examples. Oh, yes, Jesus also came back. But, I’m talking about someone that has died and then returned in modern times. Someone that we can relate to. Someone we can see.
Death is all around me, as a hospice nurse, sometimes it’s a daily occurrence. But, and I’m not sure how this happened, I sort of separate myself from the actual occurrence. Maybe it’s a self protective or self preservation mechanism. That’s not to say that I have a cried at a few deaths. But, for the vast majority, it’s almost like I am present, but I am not. I am never emotionally unavailable. I comfort families. I offer support. But I managed to somehow put a little protective bubble around my heart. I think that if I were to let each and every death effect me profoundly , I would never be able to do my job. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care for those patients. That doesn’t mean that on some level, I don’t hurt for the families, but, I can’t let myself fall apart each and every time.
People ask me all of the time about how my job effects me, and how I could see death all the time. Let me give you a little story.
Today, I was charting on a new admission. Just minding my business typing away. I was thinking about how this patient has children. Out of nowhere, a hurricane of tears and absolute stop it hit me. Why?
Because I thought about my own mortality. I thought about the look on my son’s face when that moment comes. I thought about never ending ache in his heart that will be caused by my absence. The idea that I will never be able to hug him again just destroys me. I know that whatever awaits us in the afterlife, I will forever
You see, we buzz around busy with the responsibilities of life and something like death isn’t on the top of our to do list.
But, it comes, sometimes as a merciful end to suffering and other times, as a shocking explosion.
Your life is profoundly different when you have a loved one die.
There is the before.
There is the after.
Whether anticipated or not, the great thief of life slips in and nothing is ever the same.
The pain of loss hits with the ferocity of a speeding train.
Crippling. Paralyzing. Raw.
The days that follow… it feels as if the world has lost its color.
You wait for the muted world around you to flip back, but it never happens.
The pain never really goes away. Our ability to comprehend and understand the loss changes. There will always be a scar, but the scar becomes less angry and pronounced. After a while, it becomes a part of you. Always a scar. Always a reminder. Just another piece of what makes you… well, you.
I know I am not immortal.
I know that someday, I will have a hospice nurse asking me to rate my pain and encouraging me to let go.
My only hope is that those souls that I love have a lifetime full of memories that will keep them warm as their world turns cold.
I hope that I will have educated them.
I hope that I have prepared them.
I hope that I have loved them hard enough that the love is felt even if I am not seen.
Our individual mortality
An undeniable truth.
I’m a hospice aid and I appreciate this so much. And I e actually taken care of a few former hospice workers at the end of their life. They say is strange being on the other side of it.
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Thank you so much for your response. I write from the heart, so I’m glad it resonates.