I've got you...
Updated: May 14
I have witnessed so many last breaths that I cannot count them any more… hundreds of them. And with that, I have also witnessed hundreds of last goodbyes, and hugged twice that many as they started their grief journey. Walking out the door after a death has always felt heavy, but lately, it has felt different, and I am not sure if I will explain this in a way that you will get, but I felt the need to share because while it might seem odd or eerie, it might also bring you the comfort I have found it to bring me.
When I walk out the door, it feels like I am not leaving alone… I feel like “they” walk out with me. It feels like all the human beings I have supported, the hands I have held, the hearts I have watched stop, and the last breaths I have witnessed… follow me now when I go to the bedside and when I walk out the door, as though they are offering me the strengths to be able to continue to hold myself up during these difficult times. I feel them there, standing next to me, wrapping their arms gently around me, whispering what I have said to all of them, which is… “I’ve got you.”
And when I get to my car, I drive a block or two away from their home, and I pull over to cry… the tears feel heavier now, the burning in my eyes lasts longer than it did before. I think over time the weight of what I witness does become heavier. But lately I feel safer, and more supported, and I know that those I have cared for are there with me always, offering me what I offered them… which is the reminder that I am not alone. And this comforts me. And I give myself permission to cry, and to feel… because that means I am affected by what I witness over and over again, which is a life ending, and someone having to say goodbye. I never want to stop feeling.
I realize now that what allows me to continue doing this work, what keeps me from breaking, and what holds me up on my toughest days… is the knowledge that they are all walking alongside me, making sure I am not alone. Knowing they are there with me reminds me to breathe, to take a pause, and to feel whatever I need to feel... they've got me and that comforts me.
Photo credit: @bobandmarge on Instagram