Today was day two in the hospice home – my new job.
I lost a patient.
It was expected, but certain emotions didn’t surface as I had assumed.
The room was quiet. No more pumping O2 machine. No more labored breaths from her delicate, aged chest. While death took another human being, the sun shone bright outside the windows. Life went on.
I had expected to feel out of place, maybe with a strange sense of the macabre. The experience was actually nothing like that.
Mrs Lamb’s (not her real name) face no longer showed the pain she had carried. The once-strained face with furrowed brow, now allowed a peaceful, almost-smiling expression to surface. Her nails, still painted a caramel brown, her toes, the same. But, the essence of her was gone.
I had a sense of reverence with Mrs Lamb’s body. This structure – which once played hop-scotch on playgrounds, married in a lovely white gown, birthed children, held the hands of her own dying parents – this body – was important. While “she” was not present in it anymore, that withered frame had held her essence for many years.
It was an honor to prepare Mrs Lamb for transport from our facility. I slowly and carefully removed extraneous tubes, changed her into a clean nightgown, and patted her forearm.
Death offers a glimpse of the true cycle of life that we don’t allow ourselves to think about in our day-to-day activities. I am glad I had the blessing of helping that precious life pass from her earthly body.
Some may think it morbid or at best, odd. I see it as an honor to be part of the most difficult and sometimes most painful part of a life – its end.