By Mickey Ryan, CRNP – Often, while their loved one is dying here in the inpatient unit, or even after they’ve passed away, a family member will thank me and say something like, “…it takes a special person to do this work”. Today the husband of a dying woman said, “You must be a very strong person to work here”. This couple has been together since they were 15 years old, and are now in their late 60’s! Imagine the loss he is facing.
I always answer in pretty much the same way, “…thank you; the truth is that I get so much back…”
Today, I decided to think about what it really is that I get back! Here are a few highlights:
- Exhaustion – was the first thing that popped into my mind, so I have to acknowledge that this is true and can be challenging.
- Wonder – that grieving people can look outside of their own sadness and find the energy to show appreciation.
- Humility – from witnessing the end, or beginning, of the ‘circle of life’; a mysterious process that is completely out of our hands.
- Gratitude – for the opportunity to care for people who, after living an entire life, whether it was 5 days or 95 years, are spending their final days in the place where I work.
- Hope – for humanity; because here in the inpatient unit, love is what sustains our patients, families, pets, plants, and staff, and there is plenty to go around.
- Weight gain – from enjoying all the food that people send and bring in.
Hospice work is difficult, and rewarding, in so many ways, and I am beginning to understand what a gift this opportunity has been for me.
-Mickey Ryan, MSN, CRNP-