Today at work something unexpected happened that made my day stand still for a time.
I visited a lady who was dying in the hospital. It is a lady who I have worked with for three years. A lady who I started working with to put in support at home, and who I have helped to support to stay at home since. A lady with a loving family, a supporting and dedicated husband. A lady who was diagnosed with dementia before I got involved with her, who over the years changed gradually from a lady who loved babies, never stopped moving and always wanted to be busy, to a lady who was unable to talk, walk, feed herself and needed support with everything in her life.
That sounds negative, but it isn’t. She is a lady who is loved hugely – her husband celebrated her achievements throughout – she was a lady who would randomly say the occasional word and make us laugh. A lady who was stubborn to the end, a lady who was kept safe, secure and was calm and happy.
I have grown close to the family. I treat them as I would any other family, but I know them well – they trusted me to do my job, which was a huge change – when I first met them the husband told me that he didn’t think I would do what I had agreed to do. By always doing what I said, by being honest and clear and by listening we built a relationship – I can honestly say that I have always tried my very best to support all of my families, but with this family it just worked well – it hasn’t always been easy – I get weekly (and sometimes daily) calls about things, and things went wrong in the support and it wasn’t simple, but we found our way through it and made it work.
Today that lady took her last breath. I was there when she did, and I was honoured to have been there. We were talking about her coming home to pass away at home. But she had other ideas, and took her last breath. I (and her family) can’t help feeling that she was looking for her husband to accept it until she could leave.
It was peaceful, and it just was. Death isn’t scary – it’s sad, and it’s hard for those left behind. But it’s just what has to happen, and she had a natural, calm and peaceful death. The way it should be.
I am proud to say that I have supported this lady, and her family.
It is not often that I feel it, but today I am proud that I am a social worker because it means that I could help this family. I can help all of the families I work with, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in big ones. It doesn’t matter – what matters is that I can make someone else’s life a little better, and that’s really really important. Today, I have been reminded of what matters more than anything.
Rest in peace my lovely.