Beauty in the unexpected: helping a man die

Yesterday, I woke up and set my intention to see beauty and good in my day. My mind has been swirling around in counter-productive thoughts lately and I thought that this intention would kick some positivity back into my brain.

 

Well, I got what I asked for, although in a rather unexpected setting.

 

I’ve been working on the Palliative Care Unit for the past month teaching the nurses and physicians how to use a new software that is being implemented across the hospital. As soon as I stepped on the ward yesterday, my assistance was required, however it wasn’t related to my project. A patient with terminal cancer requested legal euthanasia and the medical team needed the signature of two people who weren’t directly involved in the patient’s care on the forms to confirm that the procedures have been respected. Would I accept to be a witness, they asked?

 

Up until now, I haven’t really questioned my position on euthanasia. While I technically am for it, I was a bit caught of guard by the thought of helping a man die. In the end, I said yes.

 

A few moments later, we stepped into the man’s room. Perhaps I was expecting a somber mood and a difficult encounter, but to my surprise, the patient greeted us with a cheery disposition and looked rather eager to be signing the forms. He explained to us how he will be spending his last days and prepared an exquisite menu for his last 9 meals. He spoke with delight about his favorite dishes that his wife will cook him. I silently wondered if this was the first time in many weeks or even months that this man felt joy and excitement. I turned to his wife at this moment and she gave me a sad albeit determined smile, telling me without words that she would do anything for her husband.

 

Once I signed the papers, I prepared myself to leave. At the moment, the patient expressed how appreciative he was to the staff of the hospital and the excellent care they have provided him. While he didn’t directly look at me, his wife and I exchanged a glance. Her eyes were kind and I knew in that moment that she was thankful that I helped fulfill her husband’s dying wish.

 

With a sigh of relief, the man stated that he has lived a full and exciting life and that it was time to go. A peaceful silence fell into the room. I kept my eyes on his serene face and couldn’t help but admire the beautiful expression of gratitude he wore. His gratitude for having lived a memorable life, and his gratitude for being able to end it with dignity.

 

In this experience I had found the overwhelming beauty that I was searching for. And for that, I am grateful.

 

Much love and hugs,
Jules xoxo

 

P.S. Please note that this post was not made to debate the pros and cons of euthanasia. I understand that this is an extremely contreversial subject and I initially hesistated to write this post because of it. However, this experience has profoundly marked me and I felt it was worth sharing. There is beauty in gratitude, no matter what form it presents itself as. Thank you for respecting my opinion.

 

Photo credits: Frank Mckenna, taken from Unsplash.com

 

Good for the soul, wellness
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