Working with Death: The most dangerous side effect
I have been a Japanese nurse for 12 years and working with the sick, dying, and un healthy doesn't come with the job but instead it is the job. I moved from a big hospitals 5 years ago to a small hospice where people go to live out the last part of their life. The first year or so went very well, my co workers were great, the work was at a much more manageable pace, and the hours were shorter. None of this changed over the past 5 years or so but I did notice something. My relationships outside of work were failing. One night after a fight with my husband he said to me that to him it felt like I didn't seem to have a shred of sympathy. He was right, I looked at any pain my family or friends were feeling and either dismissed it because compared to watching a 40 year old mother of two small kids die of cancer their pain seemed silly or I associated it as more work like my job as a nurse and not as a wife of mother. Sympathy is one of the beautiful things about humans and my job had a sympathy tax associated with it. This tax was making me less human to the ones I love as I was forced to take care of people I didn't know. This thought alone hit me like a tone of bricks. I went and got some help from a shrink my hospital luckily provides to nurses for free. He told me the same advise as my husband which was I needed to have a strong conscientiousness of the toll my job was taking and either find a way to handle it or quit my job. Oddly enough the answer was right in my hospital and showed it self to me that same night. In fact it had been there all along but now that I was looking for it, it became much easier to see. Her name was Mrs. Tanaka, an 80yo who had been at the hospital for 3 months and in that time she only had one visit and it was one of her many kids who need a signature to sell her house. A woman in her 80 with a large family laying in her bed dying all alone. I realized I will become this woman if I can not love and cherish my family. Bring things buried deep in your mind to the front and center of thought can deeply improve who you are. I'm still working there but I wake up every day knowing why I'm going to work, for my family.