Breakfast In Bed
A story to teach us how one might be there for anotherI arrived to such beauty and order in the dining room here the tall, iron hospital bed stood with Ray barely raising the sheet. "This room is filled with life." Jean corrected me and said, "This is love, this room is filled with love, Cassandra". This firm statement told me Jean's goal for her husband and that care should be guided with love, dignity and respect of him and what he wished, as the "Man of the house. She had accepted that Ray was dying and nothing could be done to "save" him. I heard that under her words so when he wanted breakfast after being semiconscious for days, I should let go of my nurse self that feared he would choke to death and die. And be there in support of what she knew of her husband and in support of her in wanting to grant him this wish.
This is a big risk on our part as caregivers. Every thing in our world is to respond to someone in dire distress with a "do something" response. It is a natural to fear we might cause irretrievable harm. But I think we must rethink this through. His wife, Jean, guided me and reassured me. She made it clear all action in that room was to be guided by love.
Being there in the last hours of life is an act of great love, courage, yielding. We never know what to do in such a hopeless situation, ever, but I have found the situation tells me what to do. And even then I worry I may be wrong. But in the moment we will know we are going in the right direction. Years later we will look back and be encouraged we not only did the best we could, but what we gave helped to create a gentle, even beautiful passing. And what we learned will help us again to reach out to another.
What do I mean by the situation will tell me what to do. I will not know what to do when I open the door to be there for another. But if I knock and go in and feel the helplessness, wanting to run, not wanting to be there and stay and just note what do I feel, see or even know from the past that will help me to know, just be there, nothing to do, nothing to say, just the gift of myself. Then at some point I will do something that feels right. Perhaps it is just quietly bringing a chair close or leaning near and saying who I am and why I want to be there.