We have a saying in hospice, “Leave your agenda at the door”.
This is just a simple way of reminding each other to remember whose death it is that we are following, and who is in charge. I often tell people, hospice workers are not the “experts”. Experiri, from the Latin, means “try”. To be an expert, one must have tried the experience. None of my co-workers have died in order to become real experts. We can say we have some knowledge, gained by being the spectators of others as they approach death. But I always worry, that having this view of ourselves as more knowledgeable than others, we run the risk of not paying attention, being complacent, thinking perhaps we’ve seen this before and know the outcome. Never can a person’s dying be considered by rote, and never can someone who is not experiencing the dying totally know what the experience entails.
A common question patients have asked me, in one form or another, is “What will it be like?” They are asking me what I have seen, what might be expected, looking to be forewarned perhaps of the things they fear may happen. I can answer that question honestly, with “I don’t know”….and discuss only what I have seen at the death bed of others. Being surprised is what keeps me humble, and reminds me to never feel like I have the right answer or the right way.
Like all things in my life, I am reminded to keep trying. Keep moving forward, knowing there are yet things to be accomplished and experience to be had.
“The most beautiful sea has yet to be crossed.
The most beautiful child has yet to be born.
Our most beautiful days have yet to be lived;
and the best word that I wanted to say to you
is the word that I have not yet said.”