It’s Friday! I can’t quite bring myself to enjoy my mood guiltlessly. On the one hand it’s both pay day and my last night before a weekend off; on the other, it is the day of passing for a resident of mine.
I’ve been a CNA and at this job for a little under a month…for most of that time a particular resident has been on my set (my regular group of patients).She was on hospice when I was hired. She couldn’t participate in lucid conversation…she couldn’t move herself or feed herself. She couldn’t tell me about her day. All the same I developed a deep soft spot for her. There was a strange desperation in her muted southern drawl; I often wondered what age she was in her mind. I work on the dementia unit but many of the residents have other health complications. She was young, certainly no more than 60.
A few days ago her breathing pattern changed, her sleep changed. I knew her time was soon. Some may find it twisted but I prayed to Hades and Thanatos and Jesus daily to take her, swiftly and gently, to a place far from here. Last night her family was there and I sat with them, torn between a new type of grief and curiosity. This evening she was gone…she had passed maybe two hours before I arrived. Her daughter and granddaughter were there. I could go on for a long time.I spent the first 40 or so minutes of my shift sitting with her, praying with and for her.Losing a resident at work is strange.
This is my first work death and I’m having a hard time keeping it professional; someone I cared for passed. Her roommate was placed elsewhere for the time being. Going into the room made my chest jump! She was certainly gone, greeted by her late husband and son, but the room held the energy of all. She had been a (deteriorating) resident for 6 years. I helped her body to the gurney that was headed to the funeral home, took out the garbage, wiped everything with bleach wipes. “L” is not there anymore. I won’t be singing lullabyes or cleaning her mouth or fixing her hair. I won’t be futilely(sp?) asking her about cold coffee. Soon, probably sooner than I’d like, I’ll be caring for someone else in her room, in her bed.
I don’t know how to be wholly happy. I am the type of person who – by genetics or learned behavior and despite my best efforts – takes at least a bit of work home. I come from a medical family. How do you process this this type of caregiver death?