Yeah, so remember that “D word” that I wrote about yesterday? Death? Well, it claimed yet another yesterday.
My hospice patient.
Today I grieve a beautiful person and soul – a mother, friend, grandmother and nurse.
I knew it was going to happen soon, I just never expected it to be THIS soon. Ah, this has sparked so many thoughts and emotions. I’ve read book after book on death and dying, thought about how it applies to my own life and how I live it, but I never really thought about how it would affect me when one of my patient’s passed on. It’s difficult to write a narrative about something like this when I’m only thinking in bits and pieces. While this is fresh on my mind I thought I’d share of few of my mental fragments with you, I’m sure many of you can relate. So here we go…
I drove over to visit her today and it was when I was checking in with the nurses that I found out she had passed away yesterday – on the 2nd just before one in the afternoon. This was exactly the time I was trying to leave my house to go see her (but couldn’t because of my un-plowed street). If only I could’ve made it…
Just after I found out… denial: “Wow, I’m dealing with this really well… Well, I knew this was bound to happen… Just move on I guess…”
A little later: “Wow, I’m actually kind of sad about this… I really felt connected to this woman and loved every minute of caring for her. I just wish I would’ve been able to spend more time with her…”
Later yet: “She seemed to respond so well to me and she remembered me and was much more coherent on Monday… I mean she really seemed better and was so responsive! … I wonder if I would’ve been able to have more time with her if she would’ve still died…”
Anger sets in: “Dang you Son-in-Law for telling her it was OK for her to go, for telling her that you would take care of her babies, for reassuring her and comforting her with your love, and thanking her for giving you your wife! At the time you said it I celebrated your act of compassion and kindness but how could you do that? She would’ve hung on if you hadn’t…”
Transitioning to sadness: “Gosh, when she asked for water and I held up the sponge for her to drink from, I thought she was feeling stronger… remember when I was sitting there just talking to her, to let her know that I was there and that she was safe? Remember when I was just sitting there talking, hoping to comfort her and then she starting responding? Wasn’t that funny when she said…. And how cute was she when she was holding and stroking her stuffed plush puppy?”
“Oh how I enjoyed being with her and serving her, it felt so good to be there for her and for her daughter, who was clearly so appreciative…”
And then the tears came.
I grieve the loss of this beautiful woman who touched my heart in a matter of two long afternoons/evenings together. I celebrate the life of a woman who, as a nurse, touched countless lives. I grieve the loss of a mother, a grandmother, whose family will now be missing such a loved piece. I celebrate how much she meant to her loved ones, I celebrate that she could be near them when she passed…
but still, I grieve.
And I will for a few days. I will let myself grieve and remember the sweet, funny, difficult, and moving moments I was able to share with this precious soul. I’m thankful to the bottom of my heart that no matter how difficult this is, I was able to serve her while I could. I’m so thankful I made serving her a priority, even over my studies, because this is a lesson I will never forget.
So I will grieve. I will mourn. And I will celebrate. And then I will move on and carry this experience with me for the rest of my life as I care for more and more patients, and I will never forget the painful beauty of becoming attached to someone and letting them into your heart.
Sleep sweet, Miss P.
…more to come…