Everyone is Special

by Neva Bodin

I had planned on having time to write my blog Friday evening, in the comfort of my turbulent looking office at home. However, a call Friday morning asking if I could “please” come to work for the night shift took precedence. The scheduled nurse was sick.

I work at a hospice, on a as-needed basis. I tried retirement once, for a whole year! I signed up for all the things I had tabled while employed full time as a nurse after the children were grown, and part-time during most of their growing up years. I failed at retirement.

I was busy…terribly busy with personal interests and volunteer projects. But, unfulfilled. I was born to be a nurse…probably until I can’t find my way to work anymore.

When people hear I work at a hospice, the usual comment is, “You have to be special to work there. That must be so hard.”

In response to the first comment, everyone I serve with my nursing skills, meaning my patients, their friends and family members, are far more special than I ever will be. I am only a fellow human, whom they have allowed to come alongside them in their last, very important journey in life. And I may be able to help them navigate those waters with my nursing skills, or with my people skills, and my caring about them and their families. They are my brothers and sisters.

Unless there is something going to happen that I don’t anticipate, everyone I know, will have this journey. There are many legends in many languages about death and the spiritual journey involved. All seem to involve some kind of decision or accounting or struggle to get to a place of eternal rest. Most of us don’t want to think about it until it is thrust upon us.

I have attended deaths in hospitals, nursing homes, private homes and hospices. The experience can be vastly different, depending on the setting. And I prefer being able to be part of the families, friends and patients who have invited hospice personnel to experience the journey with them. We have the resources and time to ease the angst and pain they may experience.

This is a somber subject for a blog. But if I could share the strength, character and courage I see every time I come to work, you would smile, and agree, we are resilient and courageous spirits who do face what we have to face, draw strength from others, and provide an example for those we come in contact with.

The human spirit is like a rubber band, it can stretch to encompass new ideas, new ways of doing things, and dealing with the journey of a lifetime. And because we touch each other’s lives in all that we do, we are all special.

And yes, sometimes it is sad, sometimes triumphant, and always emotional. But that’s life isn’t it?

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17 Responses to Everyone is Special

  1. Joe Stephens says:

    I think it’s a beautiful topic for a blog and you handle it with grace and tenderness. Thank you for sharing this.

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  2. Doris says:

    Neva, I agree. Everyone is special. I used to get similar responses when I told people I worked with juvenile delinquents in a locked setting. Like you, that was my calling and I loved every person who came through the door. To this day, although I cannot continue that work due to physical limitations, I still think fondly of the journeys that those children took.

    Yes, the human spirit is capable of so much. People are so lucky to have you and others like you as they make that final journey. A beautiful post. Thank you. Doris

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Thank you for reading and sharing your understanding. I can appreciate your feelings in your work too. I have also worked 10+ years in mental health, mostly with adults but some juveniles too. I am richer for them having shared aspects of their lives with me, and helping me understand some of why we are as we are. I tend to want the parts of my career that lead me into close relationships because of tense situations. You are able to form relationship with someone quickly then. I bet you were great and have many wonderful memories as well as sad ones.

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  3. Neva, I agree that we are all special. I’m glad you still care for those in need.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      I am glad that I can still work and care for them too, Abbie. It is such a privilege and does way for me than anyone else. I gain from their courage and acceptance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I also admire your determination. After fifteen years as a registered music therapist working with senior citizens, I was feeling burned out so when my late husband suggested I quit my day job and write full time, I jumped at the chance and now have no regrets.

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  4. Mike Staton says:

    Wonderful blog, Neva. You are special. Hospice nurse, social worker and aide came into my sister’s home in Ohio when our mom was at the end of her days with ALS. I can’t say enough for the sensitivity and caring they showed to mom and to us. Hard, hard time, but I wouldn’t trade those memories and the time we were able to share with mom, although ALS had taken about everything from her, including speech. That was November 2003, and we had to do it again in January with dad, this time in a hospital setting.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Thanks for the kind comments. Am so glad someone was there to help with your mom. It can be scary and frustrating to go through that alone feeling helpless and powerless to help our loved ones, and ourselves, with that experience. Hope your dad’s experience was made less traumatic by caring nurses and staff also. Many diseases, and particularly ALS, are like thieves in the night who keep returning, stealing bits and pieces of our loved ones until all is gone.

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  5. Wranglers says:

    I know how hard it is to write away from a person’s writing area, and you did a great job.

    I don’t remember the Hospice nurses’ names who helped with the journey for my dad or my brother, but I remember their kindness, their expertise, and their efficiency. The minute we needed anything they jumped right on it, day or night. I thank you for your special service, and it does take a special person to fulfill one of the hardest needs in the world. Cher’ley

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Am so glad hospice nurses were able to help you. I think it is one of the greatest aspects of healthcare to come about–it started in the US in the 1970’s. I rank it with the greatest advances in medicine, which some can’t access and eventually can do no more. But, truly, it is the families and patients who are special and we all gain by becoming part of their journey. Thanks for the kind words.

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  6. Lovely post, Neva. Those families are truly blessed and lucky to have you helping them in a difficult time. And you’re right, life can be sad or it can be triumphant, but it’s always emotional. Well said.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Thanks Sarah. I appreciate your comments. I have been blessed so many times in my nursing career by the families and patients I come to know, whether in hospice or the other fields I’ve worked in, but I truly do see the courage and resiliency in the human race working with hospice families. They definitely are the special ones.

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  7. S J Brown says:

    Any subject that teaches, informs or amuses us is a good subject for a blog. I love the rubber band analogy. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Nancy Jardine says:

    There is sadness in your post, Neva, but there’s also a lot of contentment showing because you’re back to doing what you feel fulfills you. A lifetime career in nursing sees much more of the frailties of life than most people ever see and it’s great that you’ve gone back to it, having tried the ‘withdrawal’ of retirement and found that didn’t work .

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  9. wyoauthor1 says:

    Beautiful blog post from a beautiful lady with a beautiful spirit! Thank you for sharing about this important topic, and I am sure you are a great comfort to those who mourn, and celebrate, their loved one.

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  10. sstamm625 says:

    Lovely post, Neva. I get what you mean about everyone being special, and I know that’s part of what makes you do what you do. But I also have to say I don’t think I could do what you do–which is, I think, what people mean when they say that it takes a special person to do that. We are all special in different ways, and part of how we touch each other is through those differences.

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