Hi fellow mortals!
Every now and then I’ll post a “Bedside Story” on my blog. These are short creative pieces (i.e. poems and stories) born from experiences I’ve had at the bedside as a hospice and palliative care doctor. Permission to share has been granted when possible. All names and identifying data have been removed to respect privacy.
Consider this a bit of therapy for me, and hopefully gentle reading for you.
This first bedside story is a poem I wrote on my walk home from a particularly difficult day at work. A young father had died on our palliative care unit rather suddenly. When I walked in the room full of family, including his young children, I was the only person who recognized that he had died. In the busyness of keeping his kids entertained in a small hospital room, no one else noticed that he had stopped breathing. Holding this knowledge for that brief moment - the knowledge that would break this family and transform them in unknowable ways - was an intense experience.
It is not uncommon for healthcare providers to find themselves in this position. We hold information that carries tremendous weight for the people we care for. Sharing this knowledge gently and with compassion is a skill I’m constantly working on. How the message is delivered becomes part of every death story. How the message is delivered matters.
Today I Choose Grief
Today I choose Grief
for the husbandless wife,
for the fatherless children.
I sink from the heaviness of heartache.
A place that leaves me raw.
A place that makes me whole.
Children playing at their dead dad’s feet.
A moment separating life as it is
from life as it will be.
Hold on little ones… the light will shine again.
To know great sorrow is to know great joy.
To know great grief is to know great love.
- Lauren Daley, Jan 5, 2019