Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Sadness envelops the day.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
People ask me all the time how I can be a hospice nurse. I tell them I don't know. And I really don't. But I do it and it usually makes me feel good that I am actually helping someone.
But yesterday, a very young patient died and now I am engulfed with sadness. She was a lovely young woman with much to live for, struck down by a cancer so devastating that I am not sure how she pushed forward for the 6 years since her diagnosis.
The treatments alone would have done me in. But she not only survived those treatments, she went back to school and received her Master's degree plus opened a restaurant. She was brave right to her very last breath. So brave. So very lovely. It was truly amazing.
I usually keep myself a healthy distance from becoming too involved with my patients. I have to. But I really liked her and her family. They were so genuinely kind and generous. And so I am devastated by this loss. The world is a sadder place for having lost her. And her family will move on but with a huge hole that will never really fill. My heart goes out to them.
So, how do we deal with this sadness? I am not always sure. I guess we just leave it alone and allow it to envelop us for a a while until we can come out of it to the other side.
There are no words that can make it better. No cheery platitude. No drug even. Not really. And there is no such thing as closure. We can put it away in our hearts, but the wound never really closes. We always remember.
So today I am allowing myself to feel sad. Death is sad, it really is. There is no denying that. And I see my fair share of it and have experienced it in my own life as well. I still to this day have very sad moments about the loss of my parents even though it has been many years.
They say that every death that touches us reminds us of all the deaths that we have experienced. I am not sure that that is actually true. I just think each death or loss is simply sad on its own accord. There seems to be no reason to complicate it any further. It is what it is. Sad.
Very, very sad, indeed.
So, anyway, I started this with a poem about death that is my all time favorite, if you can even have a favorite poem about something as awful as death, but here it is and I will end with the remainder of that poem.
(In honor of all of my patients, but especially for H.Y. and her family.)
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
W. H. Auden
And if you would like to see a reading of this poem, which is from the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral" but read well anyway, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_a-eXIoyYA