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It's been years since I've posted anything here. My dad died 3 years ago and you all were with me every step of the way. But now I find myself in a unique and uncomfortable situation professionally. I've discussed this with my nursing supervisor and a colleague but I can't get this out of my head.


I work in hospice. Over a year ago I started with a client, Maria. I was with her throughout her entire journey. At one point she came up for recertification and we made the decision that it was appropriate to recertify her.


I became quite close with the family. Maria's adult children were very involved in her life, they always wanted to know exactly what was going on, and they never hesitated to call my service with any questions or concerns. They weren't comfortable administering care to their mom, which is completely fine, so I did a lot of hands on work with Maria. After a year it was obvious that it was nearing the end. I gave one of the adult children my personal cell number and I trusted her not to abuse it and she didn't. Not once. I tell you this to illustrate the bond I formed with the family. I've been close with other families in my career but there was something about this family.


At the beginning of February I went to the house and assessed Maria's condition. I told the family that she would pass away very soon. Hours, maybe a day. I sat by Maria this day. I stroked her forehead and talked quietly to her. She wasn't conscious. The family floated in and out but I stayed at the bedside. Maria died that afternoon while I was with her.


Hours later it was time for me to go. There were hugs all around and I felt a personal loss as well. I know how to distance myself from my patients but as I said this family got into my heart a bit.


Maria's husband of 60 years survived her and he was on hospice as well although I didn't work with him as much. I liked him, he was a character but after Maria died my work assignments took me elsewhere. However, 6 weeks after Maria died I stopped in to see the family and I saw that the husband, Ron, seemed to be doing well. It was good to see everyone. I stayed for 15 minutes then went on my way.


A few weeks ago we were informed that Ron had taken a turn for the worse. I ask to be reassigned to their case. I was shocked at how quickly Ron had declined. And he declined a little everyday. Even during a shift he would decline. He'd go downhill between noon and 8pm. But the family was relieved that I was back and I was happy to be back and to be caring for Ron. As he got worse the adult daughter texted me a few times in a panic. I went in early a few times, picked up an extra shift, and spent a lot of time with them. More than I did with my other patients.


Yesterday (Monday) Ron wasn't conscious. He had had colon cancer that our Dr. thinks metastasized to his lung. The last time Ray had had an xray (over a year ago) there was a spot on his lung but he wanted to go home, be with his wife, and let nature take its course. Over the last 10 days he's had a lot of pain. He went from refusing narcotic pain meds to asking for them. So Ron had morphine yesterday at noon and again at 4pm.


Throughout the day I kept an eye on his vitals. I read the bible to him. I held his hand. I kept his mouth moist and medicated him to relieve the secretions in his throat. I stepped away from the bedside to speak with the family. They were wanting a caregiver overnight so I helped my office set up around-the-clock care for the next day or so. When I returned to Ron's room he was dying. I closed the door and felt for his pulse. I caught the last few beats of his pulse and then he was dead.


Once again, there were procedures to observe. Many tasks to complete. The family continued to comment on how grateful they were that I had been there. First with their mom then, 3 months later, with their dad. We spoke about how things don't happen by accident, that I began my work with then way back over a year ago and stayed with them till the very end. Actually, the family was saying these things, I was just numb.


What are the odds that I would physically be with Maria the day she died and 4 months later, be there when her husband died? The coincidence was not lost on my office and they were very concerned about me. They gave me 4 days off and encouraged me to call if I needed to talk. My company is great like that.


But it's not sitting well with me. I'm uncomfortable. What does it mean, if anything? Me, this family, their parents who both died with me at the bedside? I almost feel guilty. My nursing supervisor said that since I had been with the family so much for the past 5 days it was likely that he would die while I was there but it seems so much more in my mind. I can't stop ruminating over it. My boss has never had this happen with anyone before. Husband and wife die 4 months apart and the same nurse is with them both at the time of death??

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Eyerishlash. I believe it was all in God's perfect timing and I think all the love you invested with these people is beautiful.........
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What you did was beautiful. It is something that anyone could feel honored and proud to have undertaken and seen through to the end.

If you are having uncomfortable feelings, they may be related to something you have (recently or long ago) decided to suppress from your consciousness. Unidentifiable feelings are often things we don't want to admit to ourselves: maybe there are feelings you are not ready for, or have some judgement towards.

Happiness, gratitude, joy - we usually don't have a problem with those. But if there is any resentment or if you had any feelings of dislike or anger for the family or the patients, you might be reluctant to admit them to yourself. Please give yourself a break, if that's the case. Emotions are natural and not always nice. But I believe they are morally neutral, and they don't make us good or bad. It is actions that count, and your actions were admirable.

I second the suggestion to see a counselor. It's possible you are having some things come up from your father's death, three years ago.

If your own feelings are in order, maybe there is some part of you that is wanting a career change, or who wants to change the world. Maybe you have a secret plan to revise and renovate the hospice industry? (It can use all the help it can get).

Anyway, I wish you the best.
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I have no doubt Maria wanted you to be with him... The nurse in hospice who took care of my father in the end was from Russia. My father sent me money occasionally whilst I lived in Russia. He was so proud of me and I love the Russia people more than Americans (sometimes, lol) but I felt this was synchronous too. He was not conscious in hospice but he has reached out to me from the grave as well, so don't doubt your intuition for a moment. It was important to them both that your beautiful soul assisted them in crossing over.
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Eyerish, ask yourself some questions:

1. If there were some "coincidence", how would it affect you as a person, and as a medical professional? If there weren't, how again would it affect you? Other than being an unsettling feeling, is there a reason why an answer has to be found? I'm not being sarcastic, just trying to put the issue in a more analytical light so you can be comforted and not troubled by the issue.

2. If there were a coincidence, would you feel "chosen", and would that affect your medical work in any way? Same question if the issues were just coincidental. Would it affect your view of yourself, your work with others in similar situations? How would it change your life, if at all?

3. Either way, it seems you bonded with this family, and provided necessary services as well as a great deal of comfort and confidence during trying times for them. Coincidence notwithstanding, that's something of which to be proud.

4. I've had a few similar experiences, not on the level of yours, and I questioned them but concluded that personal bonds often transcend human understanding and analysis. Simple statement, complex application.

I think there are ways to connect with other people that to some could seem spiritual. But to others, they're are a reflection of close ties, of close family relationships, of intense and complicated emotions.

5. If there was a coincidence, you could feel flattered that you were, as Angel describes it, "chosen." If there wasn't, to me it's more flattering that you as a medical professional were able to transcend human relationships with CLIENTS, to create such a bond.

To me that element of your personality, work, abilities, is far more of a complement and something of which to be proud than to consider that you were chosen for some special role. That's not to insult Angel or anyone else - just a personal opinion that what you accomplished on your own is greater than something that might have been selected for you by an alleged omnipotent being.

I reiterate this is not a challenge to religious people or anyone who believes that people are chosen. We're all entitled to our beliefs, and I happen to believe that people aren't chosen by anyone other than humans (and animals) and can credit themselves for their accomplishments, ranging from simple to complex.
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This is no coincidence.

I have heard many many anecdotes about how people sit by the sides of their loved ones hours and days and weeks, and they FINALLY step out for some air and their loved one passes. I think there is a sense in the dying that they don't want to put their family through that.

However, you are the trusted nurse, the professional, the kind and compassionate caregiver that spent a lot of time with this family. Not only was it likely to happen on your watch (because as you have shared, you made a conscious effort to be there so much of the time) but also because this husband and wife trusted you, felt comforted by you, and felt confident dying with you by their side.

This is no coincidence. You were chosen. You were an angel to this family, a gift of comfort, and I'd bet you were an angel and a comfort to a lot more families that you don't even realize. You should not feel guilt. Sadness is expected. But not guilt. You are a blessing.

Angel
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It sounds like you have some good advice above. I don't know much about Hospice, but I can imagine that I would be very grateful if my loved one received the care you provided before their death. i bet they filled very blessed that you were there.

I know that sometimes when something very emotional happens to me that I mull it over and over in my mind. It's almost like an intrusive thought. It can be bothersome and cause some lost sleep, however, with me, that normally wears out over the course of a few weeks. Eventually, the mind adjusts and the odd sensation fades away. If that didn't happen, I'd consult with a professional to help with some tools that will make you feel better.
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Eyerishlass - It's quite simple: It was meant to be.

I believe that people come in and out of our lives for a reason. We are either teaching or learning with every life we touch. You may never know who was teaching what or who was learning what...but there was a reason. Clearly, you are a wonderful person that has the gift to help others pass on - the couple and the family were blessed by your presence.

Take a break, come to peace in your heart with it and please come back to being the Hospice caregiver. We need you.
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Eyerishlass, I think it is just the roll of the dice, you were spending much more time with those two patients then with other patients, thus your chances of being there at the time of death were much greater.

I wouldn't overthink it, it was the family who requested your care because you were so helpful and comforting for them when their Mom had passed. They wanted the same type of care for their Dad.
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In a logical, impersonal way it is obvious why you were there when they died, you went out of your way to be available to them, and they trusted you implicitly to guide them through. You could have stepped away at any time, especially when you were called back for the second time, but you didn't.
It sounds like you are looking for a deeper, spiritual meaning. Maybe it was preordained, maybe it was just a "freaky coincidence". I think you should talk this through with someone, a counsellor or your religious leader.
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