Today, I stayed home from work due to another bad migraine with accompanying nausea. I was in bed most of the day, largely unaware of anything going on in the world around me. Right about dinner time, my best friend called me. It’s unusual for her to call, we see each other at work just about everyday and text nonstop, so I knew something was up. She told me, through tears, that a coworker of ours had been found dead in his apartment. He was only 25 and leaves behind a 4 year old daughter. There were no obvious signs of suicide or foul play, so until an autopsy is performed, we have no idea why he is gone. To be honest, I didn’t always get along with my now deceased coworker. But over the last few months, as I got to know him more, we were certainly becoming friends. I think that’s what is hurting me the most right now, not the suddenness of his passing or anything, it’s the reality of all the things he will never be able to do. Watch his daughter grow up, finish his degree, live a nice long life full of helping other people. I said a prayer for my coworker and admitted to God that I really don’t understand this.
As most of you know, I work in a hospital in the emergency room. We deal with life and death on a minute by minute basis. With time, you learn to compartmentalize your feelings, as it’s absolutely essential in an environment like that. It’s how you’re able to go from assisting on a full arrest to taking care of the patient with a resolvable illness. You learn to keep yourself mostly detached from the emotional experience so that you can do your job. That’s not to say you have no feelings or that you’re insensitive, but that you put the emotions of your patient above your own, and deal with your feelings later. We go through training on helping people in all aspects- the body, heart, mind and spirit. We have policies and procedures galore on everything from what we wear to what medications we use to how to use our equipment and so on. But there is no procedure on this. There is no way to handle being told someone you work with on a daily basis is gone and that his sweet little girl no longer has her daddy.
The only way out is through- that motto is more or less the mantra of my life. And I suppose it’s the motto my workplace will be living for the next few months.