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Keep the Spirit of Love Alive

January 8, 2012

Recently my grandmother passed away. Since her death I have not been able to find the words to write another entry and it just didn’t seem ok to write about my day-to-day nursing thoughts while not addressing my grandmother’s death. I wasn’t ready to write about her until now, so here goes.

My grandmother was an amazing and stunning woman. She had a beautiful singing voice and many people thought she sounded exactly like Judy Garland. She had the most gentle touch and demeanor. My grandmother had so much love to share even when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease several years ago. She never complained about her debilitating illness. When it took away her ability to sing, my grandmother would still sing along to my grandfather’s piano playing while expressing so much emotion with her hand gestures, and her voice, though shaky still sounded beautiful.

My grandmother and I wrote letters to each other and in many letters, she would end it with, “Keep the spirit of love alive.” I find myself saying this everyday. I think of the saying when I talk to my parents, siblings, friends, and boyfriend and I repeat it to myself when a patient at the hospital frustrates me. The saying makes me feel close to my grandmother, as though she’s right there with me.

For me, experiencing a loss as a nurse feels completely different than it did before I was a nurse. Sure, the grieving process is still similar, but I found myself intellectualizing what was happening to my grandmother medically as she was passing. As my grandmother spent her last days in the hospital following her massive stroke (6 hours away), I questioned the doctors’ plan of care, the drugs they were or weren’t giving her, the decision to place or not place a feeding tube, and most of all I kept asking my mother on the phone, “are the nurses turning her in bed at least every 2 hours?” When my mom replied, “the LNA just told me that because she has the IV it’s hard.” My grandmother, a tiny woman, had one IV…Hearing this made me almost lose my mind. Where I work patients have chest tubes, multiple IVs, urinary catheters and sometimes multiple IV poles…and we still are able to turn and reposition our patients. After that my grandmother did in fact get repositioned in bed every 2 hours once my mother confronted the nurse.

It wasn’t until my boyfriend helped me to realize that in my trying to be a nurse to my own grandmother I wasn’t allowing myself to mourn the pending loss. He helped me let go and for that I am so thankful. I had to tell myself, “You are not at work. You are not a nurse right now” and in doing so, it helped me realize what my grandmother wanted and accept the situation to allow her to go in peace.

Now as I have returned to work, I think of my grandmother every day. I think of her when I am helping a patient wash up, or when I am turning a patient in bed. I think of her when I give meds to a patient or when I speak to a family member of a patient. Each time I try to imagine that the patients are my grandmother or my family members and remember how I felt when we went through our own loss. I can only hope that in my grandmother’s passing, it will help me to be a better nurse because it has certainly made me look at life, religion and family in a new perspective.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Elyn permalink
    January 8, 2012 8:18 pm

    This is beautiful. You are a special person and if I ever wind up in the hospital I hope to have you for my nurse!

  2. Kat permalink
    January 8, 2012 8:23 pm

    I love you. I think about her every day too.

  3. LeShea permalink
    January 9, 2012 2:34 pm

    I just read your blog…………..and I love it. I have set up to “follow” you so I can see how you are doing after I leave the floor. You are doing a good job and all your feelings are totally normal. They remind me of when I first started nursing……I couldn’t decide if I was great at it or if I sucked at it.

    Don’t let the toxic people ruin your love of nursing………I always stayed away from them for that very reason. I love being a nurse and never wanted to ruin that joy for myself! 🙂

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