I had a conversation with a friend, also a hospice nurse, who just came back to work after taking the last few months off to care for her mother who recently died. I was checking in with her to see how she was doing, and how it felt to be back to work... knowing that coming back to work in hospice was not going to be easy.
She told me she was scared that she might break down in front of the families, imagining that it would just remind her of her own loss, owning that she had not taken enough time to grieve.
I shared with her that it has been over twenty years since my parents died, ten since my sister died, I am going on my second year for my brother, and I have had many other losses in between... and sometimes when I am at the bedside and I witness a daughter say goodbye to her mom or dad, or someone saying goodbye to her sister or brother ... I cry... and it brings me right back to the day I said goodbye to rhem. This never goes away.
I said that sometimes our own losses help us to help others because we have been there and we can relate to what they are feeling and will go through. We might feel broken, but our brokenness can heal others and that is a beautiful thing... because in return, I truly believe it helps us as well.
Our conversation reminded me of the way the Japanese repair broken pottery with gold... making the brokenness beautiful. And while I know it is not the same thing, I feel like the patients I care for and the people who are saying goodbye are my gold... they fill my cracks and take away some of my brokenness with each visit.
Grief takes time, and healing takes time, but I believe that helping others who are experiencing, or will experience, the same as you have... can help you heal too.