I conducted the memorial service today for our patient who died on Sunday; it was apparently a suicide but we're not 100% sure (99.5%, from my point of view). We had a good turnout for the service and one patient took it upon herself to find a big sheet of paper and a box of colored pencils which she invited everyone to use to write a message to the dead woman's family. I always do a "shared eulogy," allowing staff and clients to comment about the person. Not only do we get a better picture of the person than we would if I alone spoke, we also do some ventilating of feelings, an important step in healing. We had lots of participation today, including one staff member who offered to play a song he wrote for his father as a tribute to the young woman who died. The music really was better than the words.
Last night I was at the hospital until 9:30 in my role as a member of the Critical Incident Stress Management team, joining my colleague Dr. Pamela Fuller in doing notifications about the critical illness of another patient. There is something very strange about telling (accurately, precisely) over and over again what happened to somebody, but that's part of the CISM process. The patient fell ill around 3:00. By 6:00, rumors were flying, including, "He was DOA," "He'd been falling down all the time for the last week," "I saw blood on his face," "It was a heart attack" -- none of which was true. I know because I was there as our docs and nurses worked on the man. It's really important to get accurate information to everybody as soon as possible.
The sick patient is alive but not in good shape. We will learn more tomorrow.
I am wondering what it would be like to work in a place where you don't have to go into overdrive to try to prevent copycat suicides when something like this takes place. Or where you don't have to do debriefings because staff got beat up or patients witnessed another patient do some serious self-mutilating. The world I live in at the hospital has become almost routine to me, and I wonder sometimes if I have been warped by it as well as deepened.
I was so stressed out myself today that I had a hard time stringing words into sentences. That's when I know I'm reaching my limit, when I can't do words. Thanks be to God, I was restored long enough to say some comforting things to close the shared eulogy. God really does give you what you need to do God's work for God's people.
Here endeth the lesson for today, and so to bed.
Please keep praying for us!