Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Matters of Life and Death

After 3.5 weeks of relative quiet at work, the end of last week brought some pretty intense situations. I sat in on my first family meeting at which the medical team told the family there was nothing left that could be done. I watched another family struggle to come to grips with the fact that their child was not going to live. And I witnessed intense grief of a family going through an unthinkable tragedy outside of their hospital stay.

All in one day.

It was the kind of day in which I kept feeling heavier and heavier with the weight of these families' stories, and that ended with me sobbing in my office at the end of the day. This is my dream job - helping people through impossibly difficult times and helping them navigate the delicate balancing act between heartache and hope. It is everything I want to be doing, but sometimes, like last week, it becomes difficult for me to separate a family's grief from my own.

And yet, I returned.

I spent the weekend practicing some self care, hanging out with friends and babysitting, and then returned to work on Monday. Yes, I was a little bit scared of what would be waiting for me, but I was also determined to find new families to remind me of the hope and resillience that can be found on my unit that can help to balance out the tragedy.

So "balance" was the key word of the week, I guess. This week, I supported another family through the death of a patient. I also made dedicated time to support the staff, who are impacted by these losses (both individually and cumulatively). And in the middle of all the grief that surrounded me, I found hope. Hope in some of the new familes who have arrived on the unit. And hope in the patient who moved to a non-ICU floor and who is now one step closer of returning home with her family.

Every night, I am exhausted when I get home. Every morning I'm nervous about what the day may bring and my capacity to handle it. But multiple times a day, without fail, I am honored and humbled to work in such an incredible place.

1 comment:

smukai said...


I am in awe of what you do on a daily basis.