To our frontline workers: nurses, nursing assistants, doctors, hospital employees, first responders, housekeeping, grocery, delivery, and transportation personnel, all people who are out front while most of us shelter in place, my admiration for you has no bounds.
I was talking with the staff of Walla Walla Community Hospice. Brad McMasters coordinated the Zoom meeting for us. In preparation he sent me “A bit about some of our staff”. His words are universal and am sure they will touch your heart as they touched mine.
His words remind us that those people putting their life at risk to care for us, to see that we have food, to respond in our time of need, are just like us. They have fears, families, dreams, aspirations, lives to live, just like us.
Ode to Front Line Workers
We are single and have been alone in our apartment for nearly 7 weeks.
We are young parents, fearful of endangering our children and/or
non-essential working spouses.
We are grandparents who haven’t held our grandbabies in over a month.
We are trying to manage our workload and our family life 24/7, including our children’s educational needs.
We have lost family members and haven’t been able to honor
or bury them properly.
We have out-of-town family members ill with COVID-19.
We are leaders who pride ourselves on providing a calm
and controlled environment.
We are anxious individuals who thrive on the routine
and structure of the workplace.
We are huggers and touchers.
We are extroverts.
My DVD kit, Care for the Professional Caregiver includes the 28 minute video and the booklet, You Need Care Too: Self Care for the Professional Caregiver. This kit is intended for anyone who is immersed in the responsibilities of supporting, educating, and guiding a person and their family through the dying experience including nurses, social workers, nurse’s aides, chaplains, physicians, end of life doulas, Eleventh Hour volunteers . . . It offers suggestions for creating a fulfilling work environment, staying balanced and healthy amid constant sadness, and maintaining a happy, engaged personal life.
Hi Audrey, I appreciate the challenge of being an ER nurse who is trained to “fix” people and the sense of almost failure when a patient dies compared to being involved with hospice. The philosophy being living the best you can within the confines that your disease and body has put you in as you approach a gentle death. Hospice recognizes death is the outcome and how can the patient and family be supported until that happens. When my mother was dying and on hospice I said to the hospice nurse (that I had actually trained) "I am Barbara, Dorothy’s daughter not Barbara a nurse and director of hospice.” We, in health care, have to leave our medical self at the door when living with medical situations that are “up close and personal”.
My thoughts and blessings are with you and your family. Barbara
Dear Barbara, I have founf your resources invaluable at this time. I am an ER RN in a busy trauma center. I have seen first-hand covid all this year. I have also spent the year caring for my ailing Father with dementia. We have had hospice for 3 weeks and he is in his final days “actively dying”. I sincerely appreciate your knowledge and insight into the dying person. The hardest part of all of this is I cannot “fix” him. I rely on cardiac monitors, interventions, procedures and medications at work to “save” patients. It is the strangest feeling holding back. But also, I must. I have known my Father’s wishes for years. And despite everything this year, the silver lining is he always wanted to stay in his own home and pass away in his own home. There is a special sacredness to seeing that through during his “labor of dying”.
Thanks for sharing. My son is with the local fire department and he is burnt out already working double shifts responding to 911 calls. I have been forwarding your emails to my caregivers support group. i am having the members email me with any questions and if it will help the group then I send it to everyone. I have a few caregivers that have been sending me U-Tube videos and funny stories to help keep people entertained during this most stressful time.
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