Joe Knew

I have been guided to share this story with you today. This is the story of my first experience with death, as a nurse.

I was just out of college and I was still in training at the hospital. I was working with another nurse (who actually knew what she was doing!).

We had had an elderly man on our unit for a long time (maybe 6 weeks or so) and he was very sickly. He was what we call in the hospital a “DNR”, which means “Do not resuscitate”. What this means is that he has decided that he will go when it is his time and the hospital staff should not attempt to bring him back.

By the end of his time there, his vital signs were showing that his body was shutting down. His laboratory results were all bad. His blood pressure was incredibly low as was his temperature. His body just was not keeping up with the needs to maintain life.

Joe’s wife was in there almost every day visiting him. She was well aware that he was nearing the end of his life and I believe that she had accepted it. I also believe that she had wanted to be there with him when he passed, so he wouldn’t be alone. 

One day when I arrived to work, I noticed that Joe’s vital signs had improved greatly! His blood pressure was almost to normal and his temperature was normal. I reported this to the nurse I was working with (her name was Sally). Sally told me, “that’s great! However, you should know that sometimes when the patient’s vital signs show improvement like that, it happens on the day they die”. (After more experience of being a nurse myself, I have found this to be true).

That day Joe was up and walking around his room. I came in his room, as I did every day, and brought the Menu for the day’s meals. I asked him what he would like for dinner. 

Joe said, “Honey, I won’t be here for dinner”. 

Of course, then the conversation went like, “what do you mean by that?”

Joe, “I’m not going to be here for dinner.”

As it turned out, Joe was right. His wife had not made it to the hospital, and it was just Sally and I in there with him.

He was lying in his bed, he reached out for me and I took his hand. I looked directly into his light blue eyes and held his hand for about five minutes while he passed to the other side. He didn’t say anything, but he had a look of comfort and peace on his face.

As his body was giving out and I was holding his hand and looking into his eyes, Sally told me I didn’t have to do that if it upset me. I assured her it did not. He was ready. And he knew that today was the day. And I didn’t want him to be alone.

Now, to be sure, I knew that he wasn’t really alone anyway, that his guides or Angels would be there with him. But I wanted his wife to have the comfort of knowing that he was not alone when he passed.

When I told her she burst into tears and hugged me, thanking me for staying there with him.

That was my first experience with death – and it certainly wouldn’t be my last. 

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