Tag: coping with death

Casseroles and Conversations

2017 was a heartbreaking year for our family.
To start things off, my wife’s parents–both of them!–were diagnosed with terminal illnesses. We spent the next few months immersed in the painful, complex process of transitioning them to home hospice care and beginning to face and grieve the prospect of their deaths.
In the midst of this, Hurricane Harvey began heading towards Houston, our hometown. My wife, Marsha, drove to her parents’ ranch, south of the

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That Is All

Scott Wilson ~

God,

Take her breath, still her heart, and
clean her body out with a spoon.
Wring her spirit in the river and
place her eyes beside the moon.

Fold up her memories in a dresser and
frame her smile in the sky.
Turn up her laughter in the darkness and
let her freckles start to fly.

Smoke her love

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Swimming With John’s Ghost

Daniel Becker

During the service, after the mensch acclamation
and before the sermon-sized metaphor
that started with a tree then lost me
a comrade from the morning shift at college–
they shared a lecture hall and the appreciation
that all sleepy students are sleepy in different ways–
quoted John bragging about having the North Grounds pool
all to himself at sunrise. Morning people brag
about their

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2:00 am

Katie Lin

It’s 2:00 am, and the fluorescent bulbs flicker gently overhead along the quiet hallways of the intensive-care unit.

Tonight I’m the ICU resident on call, and the weight of that title sits heavily on my shoulders. My team is in charge of keeping our critically ill patients safe from harm overnight. Although the supervising physician is only a phone call away, I’m the acting team lead for any codes called during

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XmasEve

X-mas Eve

Cathleen Mahan

About the artist: 

Cathleen Mahan is a contemporary visual artist and a registered nurse specializing in critical care. “I’ve long known that my experience as a nurse informs my artwork. The same quality of touch that reassures a frightened patient becomes a creative source in the

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A Second Farewell

Julie List

Two years ago, I’d just begun my new post as clinical supervisor at the caregiver-support center at a large medical institution. The center offers emotional and practical support to families of patients who are dealing with serious illnesses and hospitalizations.

In my short time there, I’d already encountered many memorable clients, but somehow I felt a special connection with one woman, Maria. A small, intense woman with piercing dark eyes, she often

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I Need a New Stethoscope

Jenni Levy

I need a new stethoscope. I have to wrap my fingers around the fissures in the tubing to make this one work.

For me, these days, listening to the patient’s chest is more a ritual than a means of diagnosis. After twenty years as a primary-care internist, I now work full-time in hospice and palliative care. I spend more time listening to stories than to hearts and lungs. Even so, there’s

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Wednesday’s Child

Cortney Davis

It was a Wednesday in late spring, 1972. I was a nursing student in my final months of training, eagerly awaiting graduation.

When I arrived on the maternity ward that morning, my nursing instructor told me that I’d be caring for a baby, only hours old, with special needs.

I thought she’d send me to the neonatal ICU. Instead, to my surprise, she motioned toward the linen closet, its doors

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Aperture

Martin Kohn

(for Helen)

This openness into
This brightness onto
This bodied and
dis-embodied
sunken-eyed
knowing

This close
and blinking
moment
This shutter stop
goodbye

Your round soft
shoulder pillowed
beneath a feeble
hug
The Lord
“not quite ready”
to take you
even though you
and Trixie your cat
had walked the dark

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Surprise Ending

Ellen Kolton

“He’s just expired,” said the nurse as I approached Ray’s room in the large inner-city hospital where I work as a patient advocate. “And his wife has just arrived. Why don’t you go in?”

I found Natalie bent over Ray’s body. His hollow cheek was drenched with her tears.

“I’m so sor–“

“I told him yesterday to talk to Jesus,” Natalie interrupted, speaking quickly. “I told him if the

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A Sigh on Rounds

Jerald Winakur

White coat, sterile gloves
my instrument dangling

but she finally died
after such a struggle–the young

always struggle so–
I listened to her chest

till it stopped then clicked
off the machine.

It sighed for us all as the air
drained out. And the moon

was still low in the sky
so large, so round–this

is a shape I know well–

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Casting Out Demons

Jef Gamblee

As I stand beside the bed in Mr. Jerome’s living room, his pit bull puppy sniffs the body bag lying on a stretcher nearby. His cat curls up on the bedside shelf.

“That dog gonna be a problem?” asks Jude, one of the crematory guys.

“She might get underfoot,” says the neighbor, whose name I can’t remember. “But she’s a lover, not a fighter.”

Jude and Chuck are here to

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