Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On being a hospice nurse

Sometimes it's time to go.

Though I have seen countless people die, there still remains something jarring about the visual of death. It still feels unsettling to see bodies that so recently contained souls I had come to know. I just lost my friend and former patient. (I wrote about her earlier in my blog.) I saw her the day before she died. I put off seeing her, knowing her situation had changed, that she was closer to death. My defense mechanism to stay away and not deal kicked in and I dreaded that last visit. But I made myself go. Death had already starting seizing her and her beautiful smile was diminished by a mouth that wouldn't close, eyes that wouldn't move. Still breathing but barely. I told her goodbye.

I try not to get too emotionally invested in my patients. It's my own defense mechanism to staying sane. But the young ones always get me, always. I like my role of being an educator and nurse to people that are dying, but sometimes it's hard to watch it happen. Slowly and steadily people lose their grip. As a nurse I understand this needs to happen. As a human I sometimes want to help them hold on, keep their grip a little tighter, a little longer.

Once someone dies there is a family that goes on grieving. My friend that just died leaves behind her mom. I love her mom and my heart aches at what her new void has become. She is strong. She knows her daughter is free from a deeply battered body. She knows this and yet at the end of the day her daughter has died. And in the history of the world there are countless mothers that have lost children, but you hope and you pray that it is never you.

Sometimes the sadness of my work builds up. For all the BEAUTIFUL connections I get to make with people, I always have to say goodbye. Saying goodbye to this young friend was hard. Seeing death with such regularity can start to feel immense. I see humans for the transient beings that they are. Our bodies will fail us.

If you are my friend you know that sometimes I go away. Sometimes I don't call you back for a long time. Sometimes life can feel very heavy and sometimes at the end of the day I just want to go home and not talk. Thank you for being my friend even when I "go away". Thank you for being there when I always come back.

Life is hard and messy and sometimes kind of ugly. But it's all we've got. I love it so much I can barely contain it. And I hate saying goodbye.

But that's life.


Jacque said...

Summer, It is because you love life so much that you are troubled by death. Yet you still bring life to those that are approaching death. Thank you for being there for our family.

laylabloo said...

Love you so much friend!!!