When Pictures Speak 1000 Words

Yesterday, we drove to the county north of us where there are winding roads, rolling hills and miles of beautiful countryside. We ate a huge brunch a.k.a major chow down at Cracker Barrel and then we were off to chop down our Christmas tree.

My husband and I often walk behind the kids when we are places where a lot of walking is required. The kids walk fast and sometimes we don’t care to walk that fast. We aren’t in as much of a hurry as they are. This picture was taken by me as we were heading towards the entrance to pay for our tree and head home.To me it represents so much more than two kids dragging their Christmas tree down a hill, to tie up to the top of a car, get it into the house and onto the stand.

Them walking together symbolizes the bond they share as siblings. They are friends and they have each others backs. I have no idea what they were talking about when this picture was taken. I don’t want to know. I don’t have to know. My brother and I talked about plenty of things our parents never knew about and still do.

Typical of many long walks we take as a family, the faster they walked, the further they got away from us, illustrating their eventual flee from our nest and the hurry that they are in to do so. When my son was a little boy he’d say, “Mommy, I’m growing up fast”. Tell me about it. The years are flying by so quickly with these kids, my head is spinning. Each new life lesson they learn is a brick in the foundation of the young adults they are becoming.

When our kids were babies, instead of mourning over the phase of life they’d just grown out of, we’d focus on embracing the phase of their lives they’ve just entered. For our son, it’s college life, being supportive of him as he tackles new adult situations and chooses a major for his life’s work. For our daughter it’s all about high school; social groups, activities and earning academic achievements that is going to take her into college.

After I snapped the picture I told my husband that we won’t have many more occasions where all of us will be present to to things like this. He agreed. It is inevitable that some day the kids will come home for Christmas dinner and admire the tree that we’ve chopped down for them. For now though, they are in college and high school and I will spend the next few days reflecting on how perfect yesterday was.

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When Social Media is too much

Recently, one of my former coworkers made the decision to be placed in home hospice after treatment complications from a long illness. Through the course of her illness, she followed all the rules, took care of herself during treatment, kept a positive attitude and fought a very brave battle. Unfortunately she was told all treatment options have been exhausted. Instead of seeking additional medical opinions and miracle cures, she of sound mind, with her family’s support, made the decision to die.

She’s had an outpouring of support from family, friends and coworkers on social media. There’s pictures, memories, social functions and good times mentioned. While some choose to publicly support her, others choose to hold a silent vigil everyday for her in their hearts. I am in disagreement with some of these social media posts because some refer to her “fighting the disease” when she has clearly made a decision to die. It is even more disturbing that a few of these people who are encouraging her to “fight” are health care providers who know the reality of her disease and should know better than telling a dying woman to fight when there is no hope.

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned as a registered nurse didn’t come out of a textbook or in a nursing skills lab. It happened in real life at the bedside and more than once. When a someone tells you they want to die, as painful and difficult as it is, we must accept their wishes and let them go. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are all part of the grieving process but sometimes we as healthcare providers don’t have time for all parts of the grieving process until later. Sometimes out of respect for the dying we have to jump right on to acceptance and deal with the other stages on our own time.

Where have people’s morals and integrity gone? Where do we draw the line with our egos on  what is appropriate to post on social media? What do we hope to gain by telling a dying woman to fight when she’s decided to throw in the towel because there’s no hope for her? Why do these people think they have to be “the one” for this woman? I am one of those who have held a quiet vigil for her everyday in my heart and I’m ok with that. I have happy memories of good times at work with her and lunch dates with good food.  I will hold them dear. I accept her wish.