I had a client die last week. I've known since I met her that she would be passing.
Does that make her death easier? No.
Did me being the clinician make me more objective? No.
Was she prepared to pass? No.
Did she know her time as a mortal was limited? Yes.
Did she die kicking and thrashing? Yes.
Did she leave loved ones? Yes.
Did they know she would be dying? Yes.
Did that make parting easier? No.
Is death gentle and quiet and peaceful? No.
Is there one pat way to lose and grieve? Hell no.
Will those who mourn be comforted? In time. In time.
And what has she left? What is her legacy? A forty-seven year old mother of two, grandma of one, with a mother and a grandmother. She traveled lightly, not a whole lot of matter to distribute. She had few friends, simplifying her life and moving near family once she received her diagnosis. In fact, no funeral service, only a family left mourning and ashes to distribute as they see fit.
But for me - her legacy is this - it's OK to care, it's OK to go deep with a patient, even when I know time is brief. It's OK to invest in a relationship where reciprocity is minimal (on the outside) but so rewarding. It's also OK for me to care for the caregivers. I'm learning and learning and learning just how vital good caregivers are to those who are passing. And I'm learning they need as much support as the client. In fact, even without a diagnosis, they are likewise patients of mine.
I'm learning how to be silent, how to hold hands, rub shoulders and lower backs, how to speak softly and gently, how to speak words of kindness and strength and sympathy and concern.
Thank you, Miss Becky, for being my teacher. My love -