Tuesday, March 28, 2006
This Fragile Life
I witnessed my first death today. That may seem odd given my line of work. I've been with numerous actively dying patients, spending the majority of a day with a family, only to have the patient die minutes or hours after I've left. I've counseled plenty of families right after their loved one has died. But until today, I'd never witnessed the actual transition. Vickie (one of my nurses) called this morning to let me know the patient was actively dying and that the family was having a hard time. As soon as I could, I went over to the nursing home to be with the family. Within minutes of my arrival, she took her 3 final breaths. And then she was no more. Our chaplain Ann describes it as a sacred moment. There certainly is a fragile line between life and death. I don't think I've had enough time to process this experience, to figure out what meaning I will take with me. My heart goes out to all of the families I work with, theirs is not an enviable task and yet they also have a bittersweet blessing: they have time to say their goodbyes, to make ammends, and to affirm their loved ones life. Most importantly, if they are believers, they have the time to commend them to God, to know that their loved one is no longer suffering, and that someday we will all be together again.