Being a companion to those crossing bridges at the end of life does mean that eventually, I will have gone with my client as far as I can go.
My first two long-term clients died within a few weeks of each other. I was with Miss Trish right up until the end. For her, it was difficult, she was not at all peaceful until the last day. She had major anxiety, panic attacks, delusions.
Being with her through her final weeks was a special experience. I was thankful for my previous hospice training, although this situation was much more personal, as Miss Trish and I had developed a deep bond over the years.
I didn’t realize how draining or heavy it all was until afterwards.
I wondered: How would I take the loss? Would I still want to be a caregiver?
I had some time off, and much-needed quiet.
I took naps and walks. I made bread. I went through pictures & notes. I cried. (I still cry sometimes.) I went to the funeral. I got hugs from her other caregivers and her daughter.
And then a few days later, because this is just how God’s timing worked out, I went to Jamaica on my missions trip.
Sunshine, children, the ocean, funny teenagers, winning card games, and heaps of fresh pineapple will do a lot to cheer a person up, I have to say.
When I came back, I had three highly unique characters waiting for me to take over as their caregiver. It happened so seamlessly, as they had been my roommate’s clients before she got a new job. I just took over for her and already knew them a little bit.
I did enter in with open eyes, knowing that I would go through pain again. I also entered in with an open heart, deciding that the pain is worth it and that love is greater than loss. Yes, I still wanted to be a caregiver.
(Part I: crossing the bridge)