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.