Posts Tagged ‘grief’
Posted on March 7th, 2010 by admin. Filed under Haiti.
Last week there was so much death- but if Haiti has taught us North Americans anything- it is that we are fully alive- and to live while we are here. Being short handed at the camp many had to do things they never thought they would have to to accomodate death- bagging dead bodies, creating a respectful funeral, and tending to the tent morgue. We have a different relationship with death in America. Not saying that Hatians do not mourn, are not in deep grief etc- but they have had to deal with death much more than we have- or choose to. Because of that they are more enlightened and wise than us, in my opinion. In America we do anything to avoid death- cheat aging, etc-. We enable denial of a very basic and unavoidable sapect of life. Maybe instead we could simply embrace living more so that our days here are full and when it is time to go we do not regret and in fact we are tired and ready to go?
I have not had to deal with death hardly ever in my life. Sure grandparents passed on, and some of my students have died at the hands of guns… but i have never sat with someone as they were dying… until now. The other day i was completely shattered because my favorite patient ( i know- not supposed to have favorites but we all do!)- had a very bad prognosis. I sat with him as he went into near septic chock- annoyed with the doctors and nurses wondering why they could not do something more. I crossed the boundares- personalized it, and then went into denial. the doctors told me- this is it, lady! I am in Haiti to help the Hatians- not be a burden- so when i began to well up in tears i reprimanded myself: hold it together girl. I did a pretty good job of it until myself and 2 other counselors- 2 of religious faiths, sat with the patient’s family and said prayers with them. One of the counselors kindly came to console me- it was the first time i could not hold back the tears. I was embarrassed and felt the spoiled westerner- he is here for them- not me: I immediately directed him back to the dying patient’s family.
Later that night that rabbi/chaplain/funeral director/psychologist/counselor- as he called himself- came to tell me a story to enlighten me a bit on death. This was more the Hatian way- tell a story, say a prayer to understand the death- don’t try to talk someone to death- figuratively speaking- as we do in the States. He told me a long story about so many bible characters whose names are too long for me to even begin to remember them. WHat the story boiled down to was some bible character asked another: “How many days have you lived?” rather than “How old are you?” He explained that all that matters is how many days you have truly lived. A good friend of mine, Dr. Shea, was standing beside me at this point- she knows me from Iran… “Michelle you really have lived many days.” WHat she doesn’t know about me is that there are so so so many days- where I like many others- am waiting around for something to better to happen- some other time to come. The rabbi/chaplian/psych went on to say- “When you look into ___’s eyes- you can see that he has truly lived- many days. God is in his eyes.” He was right. Before this story was even told to me, i felt like i had a direct pipeline to god/divinity/grace when i looked into this patient’s eyes. I know it may sound strange, but i felt like he was trying to tell me something. He knew something that i do not know- that most of us do not know. Something that words can not explain or describe. All we can do is be present with it and not understand it.
- Some photos from Misrata… stories to follow.
- The Boat to Misrata (Libya): Men’s quarters vs. Women’s quarters
- Why I had to visit Misrata (Libya).
- Greetings from Benghazi, Libya
- Just another day in Cairo…