The toughest part of my job as a pediatric ICU nurse is the moments you have to place a child in a parent’s arms to die. I remember every single baby or kid I have helped die in the last 10 years…and I especially remember the families that had to make the selfless decision to let their child go and give up the fight.
I sat in a meeting yesterday discussing all the behind-the-scenes logistics around the terms “do not resuscitate” and/or "withdrawal of life support". It is amazing to me how much “legal stuff” goes into this process on the medical side. And as I tried my hardest to focus and offer input at this meeting, I couldn’t help but think how absolutely devastating this decision is for the family. And how none of what we were discussing really mattered at all.
July 8th was hands-down the toughest day of my life. It was the day I got to be one of those families making the decision to withdrawal support on my grandma. I knew her wishes. I knew she was at peace with dying. I knew she was going home to Jesus. I knew she would finally be free from disease. But none of that made the decision any easier. The moment we turned off machines, pumps and monitors was even worse than when she actually died. It was the moment you lost hope, put up the white flag and surrendered. All I felt was defeat and sorrow. And in all of the emotion, I was shocked at how tough the day was for me. Call me crazy, but I thought since I had been around dying patients my entire career …and I had been present for this decision with parents more times than I’d like to remember…I thought I would be somewhat 'prepared'. Ready. Strong. Well, I was an idiot. There is nothing to prepare you for that day. That experience. That sorrow. Absolutely nothing. And that day forever changed my perspective on just how difficult that decision is for a family. I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it would be to make as a parent. I will never be able to look at a parent the same way again….because I know a small taste of that feeling. And it is horrific.
And having this perspective actually helps remind me how we all need a better appreciation for each other and a better appreciation for what each of us goes through in life. It is really difficult to understand what a person is going through unless you have gone through the same thing…and even then there are differences that are challenging to appreciate. I think this is why God cautions us to not judge.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
Romans 12:16, 18
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited….if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”
I think this is part of the reason there are so many examples of how Jesus interacted with people that others wouldn’t even associate with. He was always with the tax collector, the prostitute, the poor leper, etc. He understood perspective. He understood what others went through. He recognized everyone needs someone to love them and to support them through the really tough times.
Sometimes I feel so incredibly blessed to have the honor to be with families through these tough times. Although I do not understand what it is like to kiss my child goodbye and watch him or her they take their last breath…I do understand the horror that comes with making tough decisions that ultimately signify the end. And in some really odd way, I am thankful for this perspective. I hope it reminds me to be a little more patience, a little more caring, a little less judgmental, a little more loving…I hope it helps me bring peace to a parent someday.
Thoughts, decisions and horror,
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Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.