I have been reading Nina Mishkin’s posts at her Getting Old blog for some time. I have read some truly beautiful and thought provoking posts there. Yesterday she wrote a heart wrenching post about what happened after her partner, Bill, died of pulmonary fibrosis a few months ago and I could not resist reblogging it. Everyone in healthcare must remember that our duty to the dying does not simply end when that patient’s life ends. It must extend also to the individuals left in that hospital room.
This is not a philosophical question, or a religious one. It’s a question about what happens to the person sitting by a hospital bedside when the occupant of the bed, someone who was loved and cherished, becomes (suddenly or at last) “the deceased,” dies perhaps even while the sun is still shining brightly through the clean hospital windows, mocking the dark ache in the heart of the solitary survivor.
In the hospital where Bill died early in May, a four-year-old state-of-the-art hospital in upscale Princeton, New Jersey — home of a world-renowned university, of the Institute for Advanced Studies (where Albert Einstein found safe harbor after fleeing anti-Semitism in Europe during World War II), and of Westminister Choir College, whose graduates grace stages in many celebrated opera houses – in this spiffy new hospital, the person blinded by tears who holds the still-warm hand of a new cadaver…
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