“I just don’t understand why! It’s like I have been abandoned. Like me dying has made all the people who said they loved me turn their backs on me. I am not a leper. I am still here”
Heartbreakingly true words that are more commonly spoken by hospice patients than anyone realizes.
A patient and his wife, with poignant details and raindrop like tears, recounted how they felt forgotten. For years, they served their community, he as a minister and she as his right hand. They visited the sick, she would cook meals to nourish the body and he would find the right words to nourish their soul. They supported the families – making sure to let them know that an eager ear and a loving hug was always not far.
Yet, here they both are. His body battered by his various illnesses and his heart broken. Unable to care for him at home alone anymore, she admitted him to a facility. She makes the 45 minute drive to see him every other day, but, when the end of the month grows near and finances dwindle down, her visits become weekly. She is, his only visitor.
“Check the log, I am the only one who has ever come for him. Where are those that promised to be here for us? What happened to those that laughed with us when times were good? The more sick he got, the less friends we had. Are they mad because we need the support we used to give them?”
I tried explaining that illness and death make a lot of people very uncomfortable. The solution for most when something is uncomfortable? Avoid it. We try to push things off.. we will call or make a visit tomorrow.. yet tomorrow never comes. So wrapped up in the cocoon of our own lives, it’s easy to forget that we are needed by others.
Imagine the avalanche of emotions experienced by this minister and his wife. She grieves his impending passing… alone. He deals with his eventual death without the support of those he supported. That searing ache in their souls is one that doesn’t have to be there. Their cups runneth over…
The sick are still here. They might not be easily remembered because due to their health, they might not be able to be very social. But, they and their families need that support around them. It takes a village to raise a child, it should take a community to help the sick and dying.
Being there for someone when times are good is easy… it’s fun….
Being there for someone as they are dying is not. Many times it is the mirror of our own mortality that none of us wants to face.
That is not reason enough to abandon those that need it the most.