Death Blog


My day today has revolved around death.

Yes, I know – before you say it, I am a Hospice nurse – so it only stands to reason, I know. However, there are some days where death is everywhere — more evident than other days. It’s cyclic, I’ve noticed.

Odd, that.

Over the weekend, 7 of our patients died. Today, I’ve had three deaths so far. Being the on-call nurse for the evening – I had to make the calls for each of them. They were all different, in their own way – and I feel drained.

I always feel so selfish to whine about how these death calls make me feel – -when I know that it is NOTHING in comparison to what the families are going through right now. They’re at home. They can’t sleep. Probably looking through photos…if they aren’t laughing…they are crying.

The 39 year old wife of the 41 throat cancer patient who died tonight…well, I eventually had to leave her in the loving presence of her 5 year old daughter and 9 year old son. Left them as they wonder how they are going to go about picking up the pieces of their life…how they are going to maintain. We tried explaining it to the 5 year old little girl . . . . no matter how many ways…no matter how many different words we used to explain it….she just hugged her blonde baby doll with the blue eyes and kept saying , “But Daddy will come back home when this is all over, right?”

It was my job to say “No” – – her mother, his wife, couldn’t yet bring herself to say it….heck, her mom was probably hoping that I’d say “Yes, he’ll be home later, sweetie.” She wasn’t any more capable of accepting what happened tonight any more than the daughter was capable of completely comprehending the finality of it all.

It did, eventually, dawn on the 5 year old, however. That was the worst. I watched as the comprehension washed over her little face like the darkest cloud taking over the brightest sky.

Sometimes, I hate this job.

Sometimes, 5 year olds hate me for telling them bad stories about their father.

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7 thoughts on “Death Blog”

  1. Lisa,
    My dad was in Hospice last year before passing in August. Even though the nurses said things that we didnt want to hear, we loved them. And I dont mean luv…or lurve…I mean love. The incredible care and compassion that we felt from our Hospice experience was nothing short of a miracle. Im sure you must have many days like the one above, but know that they are not in vain. Know that the people whose lives you touch are changed, and not thru just the obvious transformation of grief and death, but by the compassion and dedication of the Hospice workers.
    Thanks for what you do,

  2. Brava to you, girl! And the work you do. Difficult – yes. But appreciated.

    I guess I would think the mother and father would have tried to explain about death before it actually happened. Altho, maybe they just weren’t ready to – hoping they wouldn’t have to…

    I remember when my aunt died of leukemia – my cousin was about that age 5 – just kept saying, we’ll see her tomorrow – which was true – at the funeral, but she couldn’t grasp the concept.

  3. Dealing with death is one of the hardest things for any healthcare professional. I’ve been a paramedic for 22 years, and hospice has been one of the most helpful things to my industry. From the days (and sometimes today is the day) of futile resuscitative efforts to having death handled in an orderly fashion has brought a sense of order to the chaotic time in many peoples lives. I applaud your work.

  4. I can’t imagine having to do what you do on a regular basis. Wish I could give you a big hug and give you some strength, but know that there are many of us who appreciate and are grateful for the job you do.

  5. Wow, you guys – thanks from the bottom of my heart.

    Normally, I don’t get so down about my work – but last night was one of those nights. Everyone has days where their work just doesn’t completely sit right.

    Thanks again 🙂

  6. I just googled this blog & even though you wrote this almost a yr ago, I wanted to comment.

    My Father & Mother-in-law both passed away in hospise. I was angry with God that they had to suffer & die like they did. My anger was getting the best of me – if it wasn’t for the hospise nurse who was there for us.

    Their compasion & devotion to total strangers in need showed me that there is a God in heaven. But it was their love & serenity that gave me a peaceful path to follow away from my self-created road to anger.

    I thank you for the work you did (do you still do it) and for your courage to act in spite of the business aspect.

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