CPE ended today and I have been in bed -- mostly asleep, and feeling lousy whenever I wake up -- for hours. I'm hoping it's just the letdown -- and not that I managed to pick up some hospital bug on the very last day. (I only foamwash my hands maybe 200 times a day.)
We had a wonderful little celebration, and finished up some paperwork, but otherwise my day was very busy, with two deaths and two people very near to death on my MICU, one of my five units. The people who arrive there are mostly as sick as people can possibly be. I realized in responding to a colleague's question that I have had, I think, two days at the hospital this summer without deaths -- and there have been several days where the number has exceeded one. One night there were four deaths in the space of a few hours on the palliative care unit. Four is not, actually, unusual for a night. (At night, one chaplain is responsible for the entire hospital.)
Sometimes when people die, I have spent parts of several days with them and their family. Sometimes I meet them as they breathe their last. I try, always, to offer words that mark the passage through death as one of utter grace, praying that the dying person be welcomed by the radiance of God, and that their loved ones be sustained by the knowledge that their presence and witness is a final and extraordinary gift. I would be surprised if any of those left behind remember my words, but I hope that they remember the moment as one that honored the life of their loved one.
It can be tiring.
And so for myself this evening, I think a little dinner and a very long and deep sleep are in order.