I Work With Dying People

I wrote this poem one day after seeing two particular patients. One was a woman in her 40's who was working through the anger of not being able to see her children's lives unfold. The second patient was the gentleman in the wheelchair. After being with him I returned to my car crying and wrote this poem. Barbara Karnes

I work with dying people, all my patients die.
I see grief and sadness and anger and depression.
Most is an individual’s internal anguish needing to be brought out,
to be worked out.
Nowhere is it written that life will always be the way we’d like it to be.
Dying presents us with perhaps the greatest opportunity for growth
we have ever had.
This struggle is part of life; it is a learning process--
Learning to live
Learning to die
That is what physical life is all about.
There is no pain for me here.



Today I walked into a hospital room.
My patient/friend was strapped in a wheelchair,
facing a blank wall,
His back turned to a blaring TV and the door.
His body heavy and uncomfortable falling limply over the side of the chair,
His arm blue from hanging too long a time at his side.
Unable to talk, because of a brain tumor,
Unable to maneuver his body,
He was trapped by someone else’s hurriedness.
Poop on his hands, from poop in his pants,
He took my hand in his and kissed it--
A thank you for getting him back into bed
And my heart cried.
Here lies my pain!
The indignities that need not be in life for lessons to be learned,
The indignities imposed upon man by man,
Here in lies my pain!

1 comment

Rev. Dr. Thomas Peavy

Your words are kind and revealing. In my five years of volunteering with Hospice and many years in physical and mental health medicine, I have walked this path with others and with family. I learned from you perspective. Thank you.

Thom

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