Most deaths at work come and go. The memories slip like stones into my mental pond.
I am merely a witness, a silent presence that walks that last few steps with someone on lifes journey.
In their final days/hours I lotion and talk to them in a quiet voice as I massage their body. I comb their hair and give them the quiet dignity they so richly deserve.
I moisten their lips and clean their mouths. I wash their face, reposition them and tuck them in with a smile.
My face a peaceful mirror. I want the last face they see to be as gentle and loving as the one that greeted them when they were born.
I stand still in this life, they are the ones who have made the journey here to die with me.
I give them my full attention, humbled to have been chosen to be a part of this moment in their lives.
I hold their hands.
I give rescue meds as they are ordered.
Some one once asked me, are we killing them with the hospice meds?
No. The are called rescue meds because death can sometime be like a tremendous fall. Meds act like a parachute that deploys and eases them to the ground in comfort.
I have attended some horrible deaths.
Deaths without meds.
Deaths, that have heaved heavy stones into my mental pond, sending out ragged waves of ripples.
Thankfully those are far and few between.
A few days ago, a tiny stone got tossed in my mental pond. A death that has left me wondering why I was chosen to be the witness to it. It played out literally as if it couldn't progress without me being there. As if they had made up their minds that I was the one who would walk with them, and they waited for me.
The family wanted to be called in. So I prep the room prior. Its a small courtesy that I have always done before the loved ones view remains.
I can't ease their pain, but I can prevent any more from being added to it.
I straighten the room, clear away anything that says "hospice." I put a fresh blanket on the bed. So its not the same one they last saw them alive in. I leave them sleeping quietly in a dimly lite room, with music playing if possible.
The families will not remember my name, my voice, my presence, or even know what I have done through out the whole process. Comfort care is between me and my resident. A gift from one human being to another.
This death though, this tiny stone sent skipping into my mental pond.
This one so different.
As I walked into the room with the family, I heard a quiet voice say...."oh look at that, they made his bed."
...your very welcome. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your loved ones life. For trusting us with the care of someone so special to you.