As I did my daily rounds yesterday, I walked into death.
I approached the room with calm and ease. Without a breeze of a thought of my sudden surprise.
She laid alone, in a white hospital room.
The room was cold.
Not cold from the AC. Never cold in a mid July day. But cold from the lack of souls in the room.
Not one visitor.
Not one life left.
I was thinking about my day at work yesterday. About my patients. About how every one has a different story. A conception. A birth. Birthdays, graduations, marriages. Yet we fail to think that one of the most significant events in life is death. Death, stays with you forever. Its carved on your tombstone. It resembles when your spirit leaves this body, that we wear and tear through the years.
At death you should be surrounded with memories, moments, and people that make your soul leave in the grandest of peace. It broke my heart yesterday. As I tried to wake up patient x, and slowly realizing that she was lifeless. It was just me. First time seeing her. A random stranger, realizing that she had passed.
As I worked on the oncology floor yesterday, I realized that there are three types of dying people, and I wanted to share this with you.
1. Those That Die Alone.
The first is people who have friends, and family. They have neighbors, and acquaintances. But they die alone. No one holding their hand as they depart. No one slowly combing their hair with their hands. No one whispering quiet, comforting thoughts into their ears. For whatever reason, people did not feel the need to be with her on her parting days. The lady from yesterday had a son. He was at work. The day before she was pointing him out on the TV. She could see him, but could not feel him. She died alone.
2.Those That Die Sudden.
The second death is a death that few of us should ever experience. This death is a sudden death. Only minutes or hours to live. Everyone is in shock of the accident. The sudden decline of health. The decision to DNR. The extraction of life support order. Its painful. Its a lot of times quick, yet feeling like an eternity. With this death, there are usually many friends, and families. Arriving in grooves. Coming from all over the world, to say their final good byes. Yet, in all the confusion of dying “too early”, we also see a a soul that is not ready to rest, followed by a mother not ready to let go.
3. The Grand Celebration.
The third death is a death that I hope we all get to experience. This death, is not a death. Its a grand celebration. In a mournful, yet understanding way, we see a grandparent who sees it’s their time to go. He is being held by his wife of over 50 years. His grand-kids surround the bed, and are poking his ears, just as they did when he was full of life. The kids are together, in unison, thinking of what great parents they had. Its a beautiful moment. People from the nursing home come and visit. The staff leaves the door open so they can peak inside, and embrace a smile as they see a beautiful life about to depart. The legacy left in each and every one of the people staying transcends generations. He made mistakes. Sure he did. But he made peace with every single one of them. He left a last name he can be proud of. This is the death is I see most often. Yet every time it happens, it feels like the first time. A grand celebration.
I hope that we can learn from these types of death. They teach us so many great lessons on how to live today. What we do today, will surely echo on our death bed. It will define those last precious moments, before we depart on that final train of life.