Wednesday, July 2, 2008

ICU's and Grief



I recently found myself accompanied by my family and friends setting in the ICU waiting rooms at ST. Mary’s Medical Center when my mother unexpectedly became ill at the age of 58. Actually at the age of 57 and she celebrated her 58th birthday while fighting for her life which it now seems she is going to win due to many prayers, support and her strong will to fight. Some may think what kind of birthday celebration one can have in such a place? Well the celebration of the inner fight for life was really what was being celebrated when you really dissect the turn of events.

As I set here in the waiting areas in the wee hours of the mourning somewhere between exhaustion and a state of awareness, I find myself in the company of others dosing myself with coffee in an effort to stay alert; I have become exposed to many individuals and families experiencing the same raw emotions of fear, hope and any other emotion that surfaces.

All individuals and families are gathered with their loved ones in the same Intensive Care and Critical Intensive Care Units holding on to any thread of hope. You can literally read the faces of these people like an open book; they are exhausted and gripped with fear, hurt and in some instances grief or pending grief.

Some have been told that their loved ones outcome would be slow but most likely successful while others have been told the outcome for sustained life of their loved ones was nearing an end.

A mix of emotions fills the waiting rooms of makeshift beds, meal tables as well as the pacing that goes on up and down the halls. As the family begins to gather from the different parts of the state and country, the once segregated family is once again being naturally and involuntarily formed once again in an attempt to complete the family circle and build the family bond that caries us through some of the most trying times of our lives as the circle of life of their loved one is being completed.

The range of emotions is strong everything from hope to anger and in some instances a pre-grief acceptance of the inevitable.

As a current non-practicing funeral and cremation professional, I find myself witnessing a different side of death and the pre-death experience that many funeral service professionals either forget about or have not experienced. The conversations and questions on the minds of these hurting and confused families run the gamete. They are talking about contacting the away family members in anticipation of the death, the talk about how are they going to move on without the loved one, what type of funeral or cremation arrangements and discussion of the funeral home of choice all accompanied by very little clarity due to both mental and physical exhaustion.

More to come later...

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