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Having the Courage to Let Go

Having the Courage to Let Go

Sean Dent | Scrubs Magazine

Death is such a taboo word in the world of health care. Heck, it’s a taboo word everywhere. Somewhere along the way we began viewing death as that ‘one thing’ we need to avoid at all costs. That ‘one thing’ we need to dodge and prolong its arrival as long as possible and at all costs. That ‘one thing’ that causes us to be selfishly ignorant to those that really matter.

I’m talking about letting go. I’m talking about letting nature take it’s course. I’m talking about abiding by the wishes of the ill and soon to be fallen.

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As a nurse we deal with death often. Death comes in many forms and arrives when you least expect it sometimes. We spend the majority of our lives understanding and knowing that death is inevitable, but when her presence is near you or anyone you love we somehow become shell-shocked and petrified with our actions and decisions.

Words and anagrams like ‘Do Not Resuscitate’, ‘DNR’, ‘Comfort Measures Only’, and ‘No Code’ seem heartless and cold when you hear them at your loved one’s bedside. It gives the in-congruent message of not caring, or simply giving up – when it means the exact opposite.

I believe in doing everything you can for someone. If doing everything you can is going to improve their situation. If what is being done will extend the quality of their life.

On the other hand – If ‘everything’ being done just extends their life an extra week, month, or months while their brain function is not their normal or they will be permanently on a breathing machine then I don’t believe it should be done (This list is endless). Extending one’s life is not the same as improving. There IS a difference between living and just existing.

I do not believe in prolonging life simply to say you didn’t give up. “Doing everything” just to be able to say you fought the good fight in the name of your conscious is not how you show and perform your love and support for those fighting the battle of their lives.

Letting nature take it’s course is not a bad thing. It’s not something we should view as tragic. I believe nature has always had a good and heartfelt plan for all of us. The only difference is we have been ‘convinced’ in to thinking the longer we live the better – when it really comes down to the quality of the life you would be allowing for them. What would your loved one want? What are their wishes?

Letting go and saying goodbye is not easy – far from it. I truly think it is the most courageous and most difficult action we make as human beings. We need support and understanding from our family and those who are in charge of our loved one’s care. We need reassurance and clarification that what we are doing IS the right thing. And above all we know in our hearts this is what our loved one wants.

Having the courage to respect one’s final wishes and the courage to follow through with them is the greatest gift you can give those you love. While it sure doesn’t feel like it, it can mean the difference between pleasantly passing and painfully dying. It’s the most noble and sacred gift you can give the one you love. The gift of honor and respect. Loving them enough to have the courage to let go.

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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    kathielee

    over 4 years ago

    4 comments

    What incredible timing! I'm a nurse whose husband is in the hospital right now facing possible amputation of his remaining leg, and I'm flying out of town Monday to spend a few days with my elderly dad who has battled bone marrow cancer for some time. My husband is afraid he won't come out of the hospital alive, and I may not get another chance to see my dad. Even with 30 years of nursing under my belt, this is NOT easy. This seems to be one of those times when I've done everything I can for my (diabetic) husband and have to be ready in case he doesn't come home.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    fuzzybug

    over 4 years ago

    12 comments

    Death is a part of life. Yes, we here in the "civilized" world don't like to deal with it. People get all upset when a loved one dies, sometimes blaming the doctors, the nurses, anyone they can. No matter how advanced medical science has come, it is not perfect and it never will be. There is only so much anyone can do, even the leading experts. Death is inevitable and it comes for us all.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    PotentialUnlimited

    over 4 years ago

    70 comments

    life death rebirth, into this realm or the nex. ppl think death is a game of chance, but everything happens for a reason, theres no such thing as luck, its an illusion. it is natural death is of course, even wen its unnatural, cause and affect, can u change the past? ok so u kno its set in stone once it happens, alot of ppl live in the what if world. oh what if i did this or what if i did that, u cant change the past only accept it, learn from it and move on. Death happens, u must accept it, learn from it, learn of the emotions one feels cuz that emotional experience makes u stronger. dont get me wrong u can fight for yur life, but its not yur choice wen it comes to some one else. they have free will jus like u, and wen u force something on someone, usually it jus pushes them away.

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