Entering into the gates of Hell
This is a short interpretation of the families struggle in coping with a terminally ill loved one in hospice care. It couples my own experience in losing my father with the experiences I gained from working with hospice patient's families. It is still so accurate to me today as I still work occasionally with hospice families and it is my ultimate goal to become a hospice nurse.There are 2 types of Earthly hells in my opinion: the physical kind (like being tortured or murdered) and the Emotional kind (like losing someone you love and watching them suffer)
I have lived through my own personal Hell and it is not something that I could ever describe nor would I want to inflict it upon my worst enemy. To give you an idea though, imagine the one person you love most in your life: laying in a bed, screaming from pain, and there you are sitting there watching their vital signs fail... Until that last moment that changes your life forever... That fleeting moment where all you can think is "THIS IS NOT HAPPENING! Oh God, I am not ready! Please more time... more time..."
At this point you have entered the gates of your personal hell. It can only be described as a desolate - heart shredding mental state - that eats at your soul and leaves you with doubts, fears, and loss. You live like this until you can overcome the pain and heartache it gives you - only when you are strong enough to claw your way out of this hell hole will you move on. This to me is when God must carry us. This place has no light and we have no more strength to endure the loss. We are alone, tortured, and lost. It is unimaginable, my words could never come close to describing this place, and it is something that can never be understood until experienced. And I pray you never have to understand it.
My personal hell lasted months - but the first week was the hardest and most painful week of my entire life. But God carried me through this shadow in the valley of what can only be described as wanted death.I am now the respite for those who live this personal hell. You see, this pain was so significant in my life, that I decided that I must help those who are experiencing this. Through prayer, support and words of strength.I work with hospice patients and their families.
Hospice is a special concept of care designed to give comfort coupled with support to patients and their families when a life ending illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments. It does not treat the disease, but instead manages the pain and other symptoms of the disease process. Patients in hospice have less than 6 months to live and I have found that the average is about 1-2 months by the time they enter in home hospice care (in my experience.)
This medical field is filled with death and dying with people of all walks of life and generations...
Death knows no stereotype here. I am part of a volunteer based support system to the patients and their families but specifically their families.
Most of my patients have come to terms with their diagnosis and seek death as a means of relief and comfort from this life. They are usually spiritual, wise and full of regrets. It is painful to watch the process of death and to see someone die, but my heart has grown detachments to these patients as is medically required. I do not feel sorry for them, since they do not want my pity and are in a lot of cases eager to die.
I feel sorry for their loved ones..........
The caretakers of the sick. The moms, dads, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, grandkids or friends who take care of their own. They complete every task with love and a sense of overwhelming chaos. They seek peace- but it doesn't come. They are in a personal hell. These people work 24 hours a day, bathing there "patient", toileting them, administering a regimen of medications, changing catheter bags, cleaning vomit, spoon feeding pureed food, and tending to the patients every need and request as well as working, shopping, cleaning and running their home.
They are soldiers.
They are the essence of humanity.
Doing everything in love. Hours of work, loss of sleep, and dealing with the emotional warfare of knowing they will soon be without someone they love. But they do it.... They ask for my help and I do all that I can. I enter their hell and eagerly help them battle their fights.
When I speak I tell them how strong they are... they never believe it... but they are people to be admired and respected. God uses me to bring them some respite in the midst of the storm... God uses me to hear their worries and respond in prayers and words of encouragement. God uses me.Yes, I enter this hell with pride and strength. I call upon God to guide me. He shines the light within the hole and I see the demons surrounding. But the Lord is there... And I continue on - with the unaltered appearance of fearlessness- but I am terrified! I sit and I begin to speak to those who want to listen in the home, and God's love pours from my heart and mouth. Yes, this hell can only be described as hell. But I must also be a solider for those who cannot escape there hell. Some how I manage to give these people something that they need - whether it be a shoulder to cry on, a person to be angry at, or just someone who will sit there in silence and hold their hand.
I try my best to bring these people some light in the midst of their darkness- so they can breathe easier.I know the importance of this mission. Regardless of the pain it causes - I continue on. I often call on him for strength when I am ready to give in and weep. I do my best. God does the work...
In some small way I feel proud at the end of every day knowing that in my huge loss that I was able to turn it into something positive for someone else. Even though I cant give them hope, healing or peace - I know that I can at least stand with them as they face their demons as so many stood by me and my father.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Last edit by Joe V on May 28, '12
My father was diagnosed with cancer when I was just 13. He passed away when I was 23 and it was in his death that I finally gained the courage to follow my dreams. Hospice care is my ultimate goal as a nurse.
Joined Jan '12; Posts: 19; Likes: 66.3May 27, '12 by AmyinNC05I very much appreciate this. I lost my father last month to cancer, and he was in hospice care. I cannot even put into words how I feel right now, but I am so grateful that I was able to be with him the last 3 weeks of his life helping care for him, sleeping in his room at night, and having special moments together.
My desire is to be a hospice nurse as well. I've known this even before my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, and I will be entering the nursing program this fall.
Thank you so much for this. It was very much needed, and how very true it is.2May 28, '12 by IEDaveLikewise - I've been one of those who stood by as a loved one passed away, and in the agonizing pain of loss, self-doubt, guilt & emotional torment found some release by dedicating myself to helping others meet this, the ultimate challenge to one's humanity.
Thanks for sharing this, MommaNurse - it helps to know I'm not alone.
----- Dave, Hospice volunteer, CNA.2May 28, '12 by amygarsideThis article is very relatable to anyone who has seen suffering, pain and death. Your experiences show that everyone is going through their own personal battles and that it helps to be kinder to everyone we meet.4May 28, '12 by jadelpn GuideWorking with lots of hospice patients and their families, the shared goal is at the very end of someone's life, it be serene, peaceful, and one minute someone is breathing, the next they are not. We work together as a team to try and make it so. Hospice care is a ministry, a calling, a gift. May the grace of God be with all.4May 28, '12 by GitanoRNenlightening article for those that have not yet experienced this kind of nursing, thank you for sharing....aloha~4May 29, '12 by babyITThank you for this beautifully written piece. As an OB nurse, having helped grieving parents struggle through the heartbreaking passage of delivering and saying goodbye to their stillborns, many of the things you write about could apply to that situation as well. I gained strength to help them through their experiences by understanding that I was a guide leading them through that darkness as they face their own private hell. I couldn't fix or heal anything, but I could gently support them through that journey. God bless you.2May 29, '12 by GitanoRNQuote from babyitunquestionably, to those parents you were a hero for being there when they needed a hand or a shoulder to cry on, therefore, from one nurse to another i salute you .....aloha~thank you for this beautifully written piece. as an ob nurse, having helped grieving parents struggle through the heartbreaking passage of delivering and saying goodbye to their stillborns, many of the things you write about could apply to that situation as well. i gained strength to help them through their experiences by understanding that i was a guide leading them through that darkness as they face their own private hell. i couldn’t fix or heal anything, but i could gently support them through that journey. god bless you.2Jun 8, '12 by lkillion2I am a Nursing Student at this present time and as you,I want to work in Hospice.When telling my family of this decision they where in aww that I wanted to do such.I do feel God has called me to come in contact with families I would not usually come in contact with and I want to be able to lead them to the Lord if they by chance do not know my personal savior as their own.Death is not a scarey thing if you are preparred.I want to help people to know this and understand this.
Thank you for sharing such heart felt words.0Jun 8, '12 by GitanoRNQuote from lkillion2first of all, i would like to congratulate you on your desire to further your education and wish you the very best in all of your future endeavors...aloha~i am a nursing student at this present time and as you,i want to work in hospice.when telling my family of this decision they where in aww that i wanted to do such.i do feel god has called me to come in contact with families i would not usually come in contact with and i want to be able to lead them to the lord if they by chance do not know my personal savior as their own.death is not a scarey thing if you are preparred.i want to help people to know this and understand this.
thank you for sharing such heart felt words.3Jun 9, '12 by PurpleVioletBeautiful article! I enjoyed reading it.I am a hospice nurse and it has brought me the most satisfaction I have ever had as a nurse.Many blessings to you! Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:40Jun 11, '12 by GitanoRNQuote from purplevioletunquestionably, i couldn't agree with you more regarding this articlebeautiful article! i enjoyed reading it.i am a hospice nurse and it has brought me the most satisfaction i have ever had as a nurse.many blessings to you! blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. matthew 5:40Jul 13, '12 by MommaNurse26Thank you all for the wonderful comments on this article. I wrote it originally 3 months after my father passed in 2008 when I began volunteering with hospice as a means of coping with my loss.
In just a few short days I will be at the 4 year anniversary of my father's death... I can proudly tell you all that I am a hospice nurse (approaching 1 year and going strong) and have found my job to be both rewarding and a small reminder of who I have lost. Every death call I leave from I take a moment to remember not just the patient but also my father... I hope where ever my dad may be that he can see how his death shaped my life but more importantly has allowed me to reach out to the hearts of others and help them through their own dark times.
The terrible loss I experienced has allowed me to become a dedicated, compassionate and understanding hospice nurse.
With all of that said - every single nurse and CNA that has worked with any patient is a hero. I stand in awe of all that we endure and strive for on behalf of our patients. We are all amazing and brilliant.
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