Nothing made them stand out, as they would in their normal work environment.
But this was not that. The graveside service was simple yet honorable. Snippets of conversation floating on the breeze caught my ear.
It was those snippets that amazed me.
I knew nurses were dedicated to their patients, but this was all new territory, at least for me. They seemed completely at ease, as though this was part of what they do everyday.
It made me wonder if it was routine to them.
Do nurses follow their patients beyond bedside duty? Do they feel a responsibility, a caring, a compassion not only for the patient, but the patient’s family?
Once their caregiving is no longer needed, do they still feel a connection to their patients?
Do they go so far as to attend a funeral of a deceased patient who had been in their care?
How utterly and phenomenally lovely and loving is that?
It’s compassion I don’t fully understand, from my limited viewpoint as a patient. It’s one I admire more than I can say.
I would want that for me, one day – a loooong way into the future, preferably.
I listened a bit more intently.
“I’m sorry, I don’t recognize you. Are you a friend of someone in the family?”
“We’re here because we were among the nurses in the hospital who treated him.”
“Oh! I didn’t recognize you. I’m so sorry.”
“That’s ok. You probably weren’t expecting to see us here. It’s the whole ‘out of context’ thing when trying to recognize faces.”
“It’s so kind of you to be here. Thank you so much for taking the time. Our dad received such great care at the end and you helped make a really difficult time a little easier.”
Their conversation created a lump in my throat. Wistful memories flashed in my mind.
As with any funeral, each one takes me back to two specific earlier funerals: my mom’s and my dad’s. While I don’t recall health care givers in attendance, I wouldn’t have been surprised if some had been there, especially among those at my mom’s funeral.
As a college student, I was too wrapped up in my own grief to give much attention to anyone not immediately recognizable. But I do recall the seemingly extra measures of kindness shown my mom by her nurses in her last days, while hospitalized.
The memory of the nurses’ gentle care of my mom impresses me still, a quarter century later.
If they weren’t at her funeral, I know it wouldn’t have been for lack of caring. They seemed the type who would have been there or who would have wanted to be there, if circumstances allowed.
I’m glad they were there for my friend’s dad’s service.
I like to think it’ll be a comfort for him and his family years later. It’s hard to remember details of those days later on; our memories can only store so much in the form of details or grief. I know it had to be comforting at the time.
Those nurses took their patient relationship to the next level. It inspired not only those in the relationship, but the rest of us who had the comfort of witnessing it, if only from a distance and after the light of it faded.
Reprinted with kind permission from NurseTogether.com