They tell us to create boundaries in order to protect ourselves. Try to limit how much of yourself you give. When a nurse works in a hospital, it’s a little easier to do this. You see your patients for a shift or two and then it’s on to the next crew. But, when you see the same roster of patients… week after week… you hear their fears, you witness their sorrows.. you dry their tears as you hold back your own… you delight in the small things that make them smile… that smile.. more treasured than the rarest jewel.
Maybe I am a bad nurse, but, I can’t seem to always put up those boundaries. So, let me explain that. Don’t misunderstand and think that I am at their homes every night, having dinner with their families and catching up. No, they need their space and so do I. But, the boundaries that I don’t know how to put up are the boundaries of the heart and mind.
How can I not care for you? How can I not worry for you? I catch myself wondering sometimes if you are ok. How much of your last meal did you eat? Are you hurting? Are you getting the right medications? Are you alone? Are you sad? Are you afraid?
The area of hospice is a difficult one.. it is an eruption of fears and regrets, joys and sorrows.. frustrations and passions. Sometimes, the words that are spoken are ones that even their closest family members do not hear. I am the secret keeper. I become the one that tries to make even the smallest wishes possible, so that one may pass without lingering thoughts. It isn’t always possible, but, damned if I am not going to try.
The fate that caused hospice nurse and patient to meet sets the stage for an intertwined tapestry of lives. They do not guard their hearts and minds from me. I believe that I would be giving less than the me they deserve if I did so. There are moments where it does become difficult, but, remembering that I am the one guiding their forever journey makes me understand that what happens is just as much about me as it is about them.