By Amy Geldersma, LMSW
I was there in the driveway when 98 year old eyes took in the sight of her home for the very last time.
I was there when a man told his grandpa, “Guess what? Your name will live on, we’re due with a son.”
I was there at the table when a mother had to choose, based on price, will her daughter have a casket or an urn?
I was there when a dog curled up on the bed, next to sleeping hands that no longer pet her head.
I was there with the nurse when she washed a lifeless man, saw his wife gently take the gold band off his hand.
We were there when a woman turned 103, to lessen the loneliness with balloons and sweet treats.
We were there past our shift when a patient needed care, suddenly death was so close and her family wasn’t yet there.
We watched a husband help with things he said he never would, because he realized it was time. He finally understood.
We have heard the greatest secrets, regrets, and fears. We kept them safe within us, all those words that trust our ears.
We counseled the life-long partner when he realized he’ll “get nothing”, there were no documents in place to protect things shared with his loved one.
We’ve seen eyes light up over things we take for granted. Like the first snow of the year, which some know will be their last one.
We’ve shared more laughs than tears, no doubt. Humor exists in midst of the darkness, it’s weaved so tightly throughout.
We’ve been the last touches they felt and the last words they heard. I’ll never find the perfect way to paint the value of our work.
Instead we must remember what we feel, what we saw, and cherish where we were.
About the author
Amy Geldersma is a Social Worker and Social Services & Counseling Manager for Harbor Hospice. She began as an intern with Harbor Hospice before graduating with a Masters in social work from Grand Valley State University and joining the Harbor Hospice team. Amy has been with Harbor Hospice for 5 years. She knew very early that end of life care was a strong career interest, and now her passion.
Harbor Hospice serving the West Michigan lake shore. Agency has provided hospice care and support programs to residents in a five-county area for over 35 years.