Death at Work


Death at Work

Yesterday at work, the last patient I saw was dying.  If she is lucky, she will be dead by Monday….If not, I hope that it will be soon after that…She is a very nice woman who has metastasized cancer invading her brain.  And she is aware of her rapid physical and mental decline…It was very sad.  The one benefit of working per diem is that I am not there frequently enough to develop strong attachments to the patients…So it makes it a little easier when they die…Especially because there is no time allowed at work to mourn the losses.

When I worked full-time, about one out of every half dozen or so of the deaths would hit me hard.  Honestly, many of the folks are so near the end of life, or have had such declines in quality of life with no chance of getting better and for them, death is really and truly the best thing.  And many of them want to die…not in a suicidal kind of way, but they are ready to die and ready for leaving this world. But it is still hard when you have developed a relationship with someone and with their family.

Two summers ago, I did some work for a nursing agency and I was working as a personal caregiver.  One of the things they asked me was what I thought about working with hospice clients…And the woman who asked said that it was something she would never be able to do.  I didn’t bat an eye and I told her it would not be an issue for me at all.  I have lots of experience with death and dying from my “real” job (I was on a hiatus from my “real” job at that point and that is why I was working with the agency.)  Not only have I supported the patients, but I have been there and seen how death impacts families…how they deal with the imminent death of their loved one, and their tears after….And I have hugged them and mourned the loss with them. Death and hospice work…It’s just another part of life.  It doesn’t scare me, it doesn’t bother me…and honestly, there is something about that kind of work that seems sacred…and a privilege to be a part of.

As I type this, I am thinking of some of the deaths at work that impacted me….Some were because of the genuine loss of the person.  Some were because of the kindness family extended to me and some were because of the beauty of the death.  And I think I will always carry those moments with me.

I dunno…I’m not sure why I am dumping this today on my blog…Must be it needed saying.

5 thoughts on “Death at Work

  1. I can relate to this..I witnessed the death of a lovely gentleman at 98 years old when I was working at an end of life care home and it was very moving and sad. He was ready to die for such a long time and would talk to me with tears in his eyes saying i’m ready to go.I kept holding his hand telling him ‘We will help you be as comfortable as possible’. I also felt very honoured to be part of that experience.

    • Thanks so much for sharing…I was kind of worried that people wouldn’t understand…but I can see that you have had the same kind of experience I have. It is humbling and an honor to be part of someone’s dying and death.

  2. It doesn’t matter if people don’t understand.You know what it feels like and that is enough..I don’t think anybody can fully appreciate what it is like, until they have experienced the dying and death of someone. x

  3. I really admire that you’re able to do this type of work. Hospice work is not for the weak, that is certain. I could never do it. It’s amazing to me that you can see past the grief and loss to peace that death brings for some of your clients. Definitely sending you tons of hugs and positive thoughts! You’re a pretty amazing person! 😊

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