Rosedale Hospice Nurse Reflects
29 October 2012
Judy Barr (seated) with Rosedale volunteer Mary Evans
I have been a hospice nurse at Rosedale Hospice for the past four years.
As I prepare to retire, I’d like to share a few of the things I’ve learned during my time there.
Perhaps my greatest lesson is that hospice is not a word to be feared but a way of caring that brings respect and relief to the patients and families we serve.
When patients and their families arrive, I often see the anxiety in their eyes and on their faces. Understandably so, because coming to hospice means that the end of life is near. I also think that the anxiety is linked to the fear that their pain may become unbearable.
I have enjoyed being part of a team that can, in most cases, alleviate those fears through a combination of effective pain management, which is initiated by the palliative physicians, and care for the whole person. This allows the patients to make the most of their remaining time with family and friends.
Sometimes people ask me, how can I work with the dying? I know this work isn’t for everyone but I see it as an honour to hold someone’s hand,figuratively and literally, while they are here at the end of their life. If I strive for anything, it is to maintain that sense of respect and awe for each of my patients and their families.
Working here has helped me to ask the hard questions: when my time comes, what will I struggle with and what will bring me peace? I don’t know the answers yet but my patients have been some of my greatest teachers.
When I think of leaving Rosedale, this makes me a little sad because this has been so much more than a job. Being here has been a joy. As I retire, one of my first projects will be to refinish an old table. I like to restore old furniture to its original form, patiently polishing away until the true grain emerges. Perhaps that is the hospice experience. We arrive stripped of everything. Hopefully before we leave, there will be enough time to discover our true selves once more.