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Monday, March 15, 2010

THE UPS and DOWNS of DEATH

Tonight Jeff and I attended the monthly baby loss support group meeting at our hospital.  I usually feel relatively uplifted when we leave the meetings, since it is nice to be in a group with people who have had similar experiences - well, you know what I mean.  Tonight was really no exception - I was feeling pretty good when we left.  One of the other girls who attends follows my blog pretty regularly and knew that we are pregnant; and we were able to share our news with the everyone else tonight, so that was nice.  We got home and I settled in at the computer to do some work before bed, and Jeff went to his parents' house to pick up their contributions for the new dog that we are getting tomorrow. 

Of course, I can't settle in for work before getting a quick Crackbook fix...all it took tonight was one hit of Crackbook to knock me down.  There it was in black and white - another death announcement.  Not a baby death - a grown up death - sort of.  The announcement was of the death of a 21 year old young man who I have been working with for the last several years (with the exception of the last 6 months due to scheduling) as the result of a complicated and ultimately undiagnosed neurologic disorder that, over a period of 15 years, robbed him first of his vision, then of his hearing and finally all motor control/function...all of this generally has had him trapped within his own mind/body for the last 18-20 months.  This kid was brilliant - in light of his visual and auditory impairments, he graduated third in his high school class.  Together with the therapist who was working for me, we poured hours upon hours into researching and trying to find an appropriate medical referral for this young man, as none of his doctors seemed to give a shit about what was happening to him.  By the time we found someone who thought they could help, he was not medically stable enough to make the 3 hour trip and it's been a down hill slide from there.  His overall health has been up and down over the last year, but I was under the impression that he had been stable over the last several months.  I have not been able to go in to see him over the last 6 months because I have been juggling two caseloads.  My receptionist spoke with his mother a week ago, and she mentioned that he really wanted me to stop in for a visit, even if it was just for a few minutes.  Of course, I have been too busy, so I haven't stopped to visit...only to find his death announced on Facebook tonight. 

So, here I sit...trying to process the meaning of another seemingly meaningless death...trying to remotely fathom what his parents are feeling...trying to balance the knowledge that on so many days he wished for death and the fact that he is no longer suffering against the fact that he is dead...feeling like I let him down because I was too busy to visit while he was dying...  I know that there is no way that I could have known that this was so close unless someone had told me, but that doesn't make me feel much better right now.  I now find myself being that person that we have all grown to hate....the 'do I call, do I visit, do I send flowers and donation now and visit in a few weeks?' person.  I grew very close to both this young man and his mother over the course of the last 3 years, but after a relative hiatus of 6 months, I have no idea what the right move is from here.  I know that I will figure it out as soon as my head stops spinning, but right now, this whole thing just blows.  I am really growing tired of the death thing, especially in terms of people who are just too young to be dying. 

8 comments:

JenJen said...

I'm so sorry, Susan...the family of this young man will be in my prayers...

Dawn Brown said...

I'll keep his family in my thoughts - and yours too.

jamie said...

I am sorry Susan. It sounds like a very special person was lost . I am sure you have / will figure out what to do for his family.

Supposed to be... "Mama G"... said...

So sorry to hear this sad story. Sometimes when you think you can't take any more, another punch is thrown. I know you'll find a way to be there for his family.

chat said...
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Tina said...

I am so sorry to hear of this. I would suggest trying to put yourself in his mother's position. Think about when you lost your sweet girl and how you wished others would have reacted to you. I personally think reaching out to her sooner than later will be a comfort to her. It sounds like you have a special relationship with her. (Not that you asked my opinion or anything, but there it is.) Wishing for peace to find you soon. xx

Jessica said...

*hugs* I am so sorry. I will be praying for his family. I second Tina in this....think about his mother and if she would like you to be there for her since you knew her son.

Maggie said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this. I'm keeping his family in my thoughts. It crushes me when I see a recent death, especially if it's one way too soon. I'm sure you will figure out what is best to do for his family soon. Thinking of you.