A rough, after-work ramble, no grammar corrections or editing (maybe I’ll get to that later):
Hospice work for me is being present, observing, attuning, attaching, loving, and then letting go.
One of the hardest situations for me that I encounter at work happened this weekend. Giving intense care for the past 24 out of 48 hours to someone actively dying and their family – being very attuned, involved, intimate with them, witnessing the subtle changes of the body shutting down and the love and grief of the family, tending to all of them. And then after this dense, meaningful time together my last shift of the weekend is over and it’s time to go home and I won’t be back for several days – knowing this person will probably die within hours. It’s so hard to leave, right at the end, I want to stay and continue my care until completion of this person’s life that I have been so intensely and uniquely involved in. I am attached to the dying person, to their family and to my co-workers in this warm cocoon of care that the Guest House is. But I let go, I say goodbye, many hugs and wet eyes and gratitude and well-wishes. And I hand off the baton to the next shift and walk out the door into the night.
Living and dying go on and on – it’s like a river I step in and out of – although of course it’s everywhere all the time, it’s all of us, but it is more explicit and raw and bare at hospice. I say this all the time but it is such deeply fulfilling work to be right in the heart of someone’s last time on earth. I meet them where they are and give them the best care I can and then they go. Impermanence in all its beauty, with all its warts, complete and incomplete, in process, over and over again.
Massive, rotting cancer wound and a still-lovely face and hands, the complexity of family love around her; I understand this quote so well:
“Beauty is simply reality seen with the eyes of love.”
(Quote from Rabindranath Tagore.)