Dale Says

March 23, 2009

Death Nurse

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Dale @ 11:17 am

I bumped into her at the gas station; I was heading back home and she was running errands.  We stood in the sunshine and visited for a few minutes and she told me what she had been doing since the night my father died last November.   She still worked the night shift at the nursing home, and she would likely continue to work nights for awhile, since she had the lowest amount of seniority among the RNs.  She didn’t mind nights too much, since she was by now used to the hours and it was pretty quiet at night, but she was starting to get a reputation as the “Death Nurse,” which troubled her some. 

Since that night in November when she had been so kind and gentle during my father’s death, five more patients had died during her shifts and she had been there for all of them.  The physicians and other nurses had begun to tease her a little about it, and it was taking a toll on her.  It wasn’t the dying itself she told me (that was part of her job) but not knowing just how present she should be and how much privacy to give the families. 

“I try to get a feel from the family members,” she told me.  “Death is a very personal thing, and every family wants to handle it a little differently.”

 I assured her she had done it just right for our family.  She had asked if we wanted her to stay in Dad’s room, and we had assured her we did.  So she got on Dad’s other side and gently rubbed his back, while we held his hand and gently assured him that everything was alright. 

“I pray a lot,” she told me.  “And pretty much leave it in God’s hands.  And hope I do it the way the family wants.”

 As far as I’m concerned, she’s got the hardest job in the world. which she does extremely well.  And I thank God for her, and for the other nurses like her, who help our loved ones in their final moments.

Thank you for helping

Those who need it most;

And thank you for caring

For loved ones who are lost.

We put them in your hands,

We entrust them to you.

So thank you for being there

And for all the things you do.

Yours is a special calling

For which you’re not well paid,

Except with the inner knowledge

Of the difference you have made. 

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