I am now a hospice nurse, and have come to this through a long journey of education and employment, but always have been drawn toward this place through empathy I can feel throughout my being of the loss suffered by those dying and those left behind. My hope is to help alleviate the symptoms of physical suffering as well as emotional, the latter of which I find most challenging as I then am struggling not just for the patient, but also the caregivers who are giving everything they have to enable their loved ones the death they desire; allowing a loved one to die is not easy, providing the care to ensure comfort is the utmost burden, and those that are able to do this are heroic – their sacrifice is loves endurance.
This is what I believe. There is beauty in stillness. I am out in the subzero night of a Maine winter in the woods, remarkable for its lack of wind. It is still. I hear nothing, not even the deep low rumble of the earth I hear other nights. It is incredibly still. I love this stillness, I will never want to move from here for to lose this opportunity would mean losing the clarity derived from this yearly experience. I love this incredible stillness…of being…of not being. Perhaps this is why I do not fear death; why, despite the multiple sufferings before death may actually be mine, as I have witnessed in my patients, as I have so many times imagined among the dying around the world through strife, war, famine, I have respect and love for stillness…and feel this must be the stillness of death as well. Once we become what we no longer are, we are free from our burdens, be those we assume ourselves, or those imposed upon us…we are STILL. There is love here, whether it be spiritual, religious, or merely that of those that clasp the memory of ourselves close to their heart and mourn for longer than we ever suffered…we are still alive within the world as those who mourn us will too someday be. We are mortal, we will die, we will be mourned, we will be still. We should not be afraid of this stillness, we should not be afraid of our mortality; we should not put this fear into our children, our descendants. I feel at times we insist so much emphasis on longevity, we must pursue life at so much cost in the process we suffer so needlessly, insist our loved ones to suffer needlessly, rater than celebrating our lives, what each life means to ourselves and what we have given to others. These are times where we have to decide, each one of us, what we feel life IS. We have to consider the life of our aging parents, who at 97 years old will require feeding through a gastric tube to sustain life that is not sustainable…. and chemotherapy for infants that have unknown prognosis when presenting w/ adult cancerous disease, even knowing that chemotherapy will have implications for future cancer, not even considering side effects on development…while people elsewhere in the world will die from starvation, genocide, war, diseases such as cholera. Needless to say, whatever the cause, stillness is tragic to we who are left behind…But stillness is beautiful. This I believe.
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