Sunday, January 12, 2014

All Pain Eventually Stops

You look at me incredulously.

And indeed, what I've just said has probably shocked you.  That was not my purpose.  You see your loved one in the ICU, medical floor, or nursing home.  There may be tubes or IVs affixed in their proper places.  You see suffering.

Your loved one is dying and you are crippled by your own incapacity, my incapacity.  But look closely.  There is no sweat on the brow.  The heart rate is measured and steady.  In fact the room is calm.  This death will be quiet and subdued.

It is your suffering that I worry about.

I repeat myself, and watch your eyes closely for reaction.  I have done all I can for your relative.  They are likely past the pain, or will be soon.  But you, you my friend will question yourself.  You will dissect each moment, ruminate on each decision.  Your suffering has just begun.

I wish to protect you.

You did everything right.  Your love was more powerful than my medicine.  Your presence was more enduring than my treatments.   And your ability to understand this, your ability to let go of the guilt and be present will heal more than any morphine drip tethered to an unwilling forearm.

There are certain truths you learn in this business.

All pain eventually stops.  And suffering is generally left for the living.


Meredith Gould said...

And, as we say in the rooms of Twelve Step Recovery: pain in inevitable, suffering is optional. Does that seem harsh? At first I thought it did but gradually I learned how to experience grief, loss, and accompanying sadness without it obliterating everything else in my life. Hope this makes sense to you and your readers. If not, ignore!

Jaclyn Nguyen said...

I stumbled upon your blog and I love your writing.

Thank you (for what? for sharing, for writing, for being human)!

Jaclyn Nguyen
Freshman at University of Southern California