I arrived at work Monday to find that three of the four patients I had assessed in the last two weeks had died. While this is not unusual in the world of hospice, it hit me hard in the first month of my new job. I contacted members of each patient’s family to offer support and condolences. There is a bereavement program in place to offer continued support to family and caregivers.
In each of the three cases, the patient was brought into the hospice program relatively late and declined quickly. In a more optimal situation, the patient and family would have several months to come to terms with and prepare for the patient’s death. The full services of the hospice program would be offered and utilized.
In my brother’s case four and a half years ago, hospice services were suggested by the oncologist when he chose not to have further treatment (chemotherapy). He had seven months of hospice care, focused on comfort and quality of life.
Yesterday I heard that a good friend had died over the weekend, and I was shocked. I knew he had health problems, and had taken him for some medical care in the past. I had spoken to him in town a month or so ago. Why did this have to happen? Disbelief and numbness followed, and I’m having a hard time processing his death. I’ve reached out to his son. I know the tears will come. This is personal.
I know that grief comes in different forms and shapes. I know there is no one right way to grieve. I know that my patients’ deaths are inevitable. I know that all death is inevitable. I know that even a chaplain is human.