Family members usually ask me this when I’m with them after their loved one has passed. They are having the worst day of their lives and can’t understand why I would willingly put myself into this situation day after day.
Here’s the truth:
- Their pain is not the same as my pain. I couldn’t go through losing a loved one everyday either.
- I view death as a part of the life cycle, not the end to everything.
- It is a great privilege to be with people when they are at their most vulnerable.
- Some deaths hit me a lot harder than others, usually based on how well I know the patient and/or the family.
- I never feel closer to God than when I am comforting a family.
- I am invited into a sacred space of hearing stories about their loved one and seeing the love and beauty in goodbye rituals.
- Just because I may seem to be calm and composed when I am with a family, that’s not what’s always going on for me below the surface. Very often there have been times where I have cried in the bathroom at the end of a shift or had some choice words with God on my way home.
- I really, truly cannot imagine doing anything else.