Saturday, April 16, 2011

death is natural, most of the time

Feeling a little blah today, or meh to borrow a word from a friend. We lost another resident yesterday. When I say "lost" I mean he died. This is not unusual for my place of work, an assisted living community. To borrow a phrase from one of my residents, this is the last chapter of their lives. The paramedics are called here on a daily basis for one reason or another.

It was different this time. The resident decided to go sooner than later. I'm glad I'm not the one who found him. Much more unsettling than finding someone who looks like they are asleep. I cannot begrudge him for his choice, although his choice has shaken up the staff. He is not the first person I have known to choose suicide. I've seen it in high school and again in college. And as always, it leaves you wondering what you could have done to make them choose differently.

Many times I have heard folks say they are ready to die, yet they don't make that choice to make it happen. I'm talking about folks in their 90's and even up into 100+. They don't seem afraid of death. More like they are looking forward to it. Many of them have their dnr orders in place. Do Not Resuscitate. We did have someone over 100 years old who's heart stopped beating. As it happens, her daughter was with her at the time and asked that cpr be performed. It was, but she died later at the hospital.

Have you ever thought about how long you want to live? Would you want someone to give you cpr when you are 100? One thing I do know is that we all will die someday and we will die of something. One of my residents who has had his share of hospital visits and often laments his lost abilities says it was better in the old days before all the medicines that prolong life. He says you died when you were supposed to. Now you sit around and wait for it. I didn't comment on that because I am someone who cheated death. If I didn't take insulin I would have been dead probably 26 years ago. He has a good point though. At what point do you decide to stop taking all the drugs that are getting you through each day? When will you decide your quality of life is not worth squeezing yet another day in?

Choices. You can't live with them but you can't live without them.

And the week gets tougher. We lost another one today. Luckily I was assigned to him yesterday so I got to see him one last day. He was on hospice so it was expected but he was a young one so it makes it harder. He kept asking for watermelon but the kitchen didn't have any so yesterday I brought some in for him but he wasn't eating anymore. Today I ate the watermelon and thought of him, in the place he wanted to be.

Yes, a tough week overall. We lost three people, one of my favorite residents finished recuperating (good for her) and returned to her house and another of my favorite residents put herself on hospice which means it won't be much longer. I told her today that I was happy that I got to know her and she said the same. She told me she loved me and wanted to take me to heaven with her. I said I wasn't ready yet so she said ok, maybe in 20 years! We'll see;) Might not be ready then, either.


  1. Sounds like you had a rough day and yet another thing to ponder. Hugs to you, sweetie. I hope you find lots of joy this weekend.

  2. I'm so proud of you for the person you are. Starting my taxes now. wt

  3. So sorry to hear about your sad week. I'm not sure I could emotionally handle doing the kind of work you do. I've thought a lot about some of the stuff you talked about here. I guess the answer is different for every single person, and also the situation at hand. It's weird, isn't it? We all know we're going to die, yet so many of us are terrified of the idea..