Someone I know made a comment that death appears to have been following me around recently. Patients have died, people I knew have been involved in tragedies...they worry that I'm suffering alone.
I'm not suffering.
I learned a long, long time ago that I had to find a way to compact any mourning I might do for patients into a shorter window of time. When I first started palliative care I carried the first couple of patient deaths with me for weeks, and as a result I was fucked up emotionally, mentally and physically. It was a difficult time and a hard lesson to learn.
As a result, I don't mourn in the traditional sense. That's not to say that I don't still connect and bond with my patients because I do....I just have learned to separate a part of myself and keep it hidden, away from hospice and EMS. To date, only one person has seen that part of me and he has promised to keep it as secret as I have.
I am no less compassionate than I was, and I give no less of myself to my patients. I still form bonds with them and I still take on pain (mine, theirs and other people's) when they die. I just don't let it into my core and I deal with it in a souped-up method. I mourn like a Ferrari rather than a Neon.
When I cry after a patient's death, it is more as a release of emotion than it is as a display of sorrow and pain. I prefer to remember moments in time that person and I shared; happy moments, brief glimpses of sunshine....snippets of smiles and laughter. I want to remember them fondly, not sadly. I want to remember their life and their love and their happiness, not their illness or the event that led to the cessation of their life.
We are all dying. Every single one of us. Some of us will die young. Some of us will die at someone else's hands. More of us will become victims of circumstance and of fate, and some of us will live long and productive lives and die having lived more than our allotted threescore and ten. We never know when it will be our time.....I don't know when it will be my time, and I'm down with that. I don't want to know.
Instead I prefer to live in ignorance and love with a passion that would make even Freja's fire seem but an ember.