January 13, 2008

A Tough Role Played... But Needed

There are certain things that I feel strongly about. Occasionally you catch a glimpse of them here or there when I draw my sword in anger and let off a rant or passionately write about something close to my heart.

I feel very strongly that nobody should ever have to die alone.

This is probably why I have thought about giving my volunteer time to Hospice when my kids fly the coop. I suspect I will spend my time with the local VA Center as I feel even more passionately about our Veterans… but Hospice is always in the back of my mind.

I cannot keep people out of pain when they die. I cannot provide medical comfort. But I can hold a hand, fluff a pillow, and… listen if they have words to say.

People should not endure the dying process alone. Not good people. They should not.

We do not come into this world alone. We come into this world with our mothers and with those tending to them. We come into this world, most of us, with people who are waiting for us… people excited at our entrance.

People should not endure the dying process alone. Not good people. They should not.

It makes life lopsided. If you come in with people waiting for you, you should leave with people with you during the process.

I don’t care if it’s family, medical staff, or a stranger.

I know, it is not possible mostly. I have a friend whose mother in law went down stairs early one morning to clean house while her husband slept. When she came up to awaken him, he’d passed of a heart attack, in those few short minutes.

But, in my mind, he was not alone. He’d been in bed sleeping with his wife. She got up for such a short time... and he was gone.

My grandmother died in a hospital, unconscious… a victim of gross mal practice. The family had been around her. When they left, she died. In my mind, she did not die alone. They had been with her, holding her hand.

That isn’t alone to me. The dying process was taking place with my family there. The instant she died, she may have not had family, but the process took place with family there, she knew she was loved...

And so on Friday, there was a fatal car wreck near the kids’ school. Two cars traveling in opposite directions on a two lane road, doing the speed limit of 45mph, when one veered into the other’s lane, and they hit head on, making it the equivalent of a 90 mph crash.

Both men died.

One of our part time teachers happened to be there when the wreck occurred. He leapt from his car to one of the victims in the accident to see if he could help. It was an ugly accident… and he held the man in his arms… and he died.

You can imagine how shaken our teacher is.

I suspect not many of us put ourselves in his shoes. Normal Friday, doing your own thing, suddenly you find yourself being the first at horrible accident, you rush over to help, only to have someone die in your arms… or holding your hand.

That was his Friday.

And when I found out when at the school shortly thereafter, I said to him, ‘You were privileged to be there. NOBODY deserves to die alone.”

He said to me, “I don’t feel privileged. We come into this world alone.”

I looked him square in the eye, paused and said, “You are wrong. We come into this world with our Mothers. NOBODY, NOBODY deserves to die alone. You were with this man in his final moments… and he was not alone.”

I feel so strongly about it… and I know our teacher may disagree, afterall, he is the one who had to deal with the horror, but nobody deserves to die alone, and definitely not like that… alone in a car wreck. Nobody.

And this man… did not.

Posted by Boudicca at January 13, 2008 09:15 PM | TrackBack

Horrible. I didn't think whatever "no words" I have had this entire weekend could be further escalated into having more "no words," but I am just speechless, heartbroken, touched.....a cauldron of intense emotions.

That poor, poor man. If he knew what a mitzvah he did. I definitely need to go to bed now and get myself away from all the sadness that has been happening, in real life and the internet, before I simply implode.

Posted by: Erica at January 13, 2008 10:49 PM

That happened to my brother in law (before I had ever met him), who just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time to witness a motorcycle accident. Only the guy he held while waiting for the ambulance to come was a big old biker dude with some unpleasant friends in attendance.

Posted by: Peggy U at January 14, 2008 01:16 AM

I just wanted you to know that I linked to this truly wonderful post in my Around The Blogosphere> post. :o)

Posted by: Lemon Stand at January 14, 2008 09:15 AM

I don't think I could be around death so much. As much as I hate the thought of people dying alone I think I would hold a lot of grief if I were to be with those who died. You must have much more strength than I do.

Posted by: Jody at January 14, 2008 10:01 AM

You may not have drawn your sword for this post, but your passion is still apparent. Every hair on my body stood up when you were describing the crash and the teacher's actions. In my mind, they were nothing short of heroic. I doubt I would have done the same thing.

My husband works for one of the largest hospices in the country and I've been struck time and again at his coworker's passion for the people they care for, whether it's from a chair in the office or in the field.
Takes a special person to stare down death time and time again. If you can do it, they are always looking for volunteers.

Posted by: pam at January 14, 2008 11:16 AM

Oh wow. Good for that teacher - even if he can't see it yet.

Posted by: Richmond at January 14, 2008 12:30 PM

I'm sobbing. You are so right - nobody should die alone. I had the privilege of holding both my parents in my arms while they died, because hospice helped me take care of them at home - the way they wanted it. I think, if you do decide to volunteer at your local hospice, that they will be lucky to have your spirit and passion.

Posted by: Mary at January 14, 2008 02:11 PM

I took care of my daughter's elderly pet rats because she could not take them to her apartment. They were really nice little animals, and I got very attached to them. Unfortunately, they both died of cancer, and required a lot of care at the end. That was a draining experience. I can't even imagine how hard it must be with people instead of animals! I admire the people who do this.

Also, I am of the opinion, having had ailing pets that required extra care, that there is a market for pet hospice people as well. For example, I have a friend who had to work out of town for a week who had a cat that wasn't doing well, was on medication and had to be syringe fed. Another friend and I filled the gap, but I'm sure she would have been happy to hire a hospice worker. Does anyone know if such a thing exists?

Posted by: Peggy U at January 14, 2008 03:49 PM

God bless that teacher.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at January 14, 2008 09:08 PM