3004NRS End of Life Studies
The Worst Encounter
My first close encounter with death was with my father 9 years ago; I was 11 years old. After coming home from a routine medical check-up, our family was shocked to find that my dad’s heart was considered a ticking time bomb, and it could literally explode any day. He needed surgery quick to replace his aortic valve.
My mother and sister’s reactions were expected as they cried and held on to my dad, but mine were very opposite; for some reason I wanted to laugh. After wanting to laugh, I felt sick with myself, but couldn’t control what I was telling my body to do.
Euphoria is one of many different mental ...view middle of the document...
The majority of the 5am to midnight day was spent at the hospital, with only a few hours to let my mind wander away to anything else.
My dad’s surgery started at 8am and ended at 1:15pm, I thought the worst of it was over. My mom, sister and I waited another hour before we could see him, and once we walked into his room the image will always be burnt into my head. Tubes everywhere, swollen body, pale skin, scars and blood. It felt like a real life horror movie, but being able to see his face was enough to keep me calm.
With more comfort of finally being able to talk to him, we left for the night and dropped my mom off at my sister’s so we could pick up dinner. As soon as we arrived back to my sister’s flat, I received the most memorable and worst phone call of my life. It was the ICU nurse of my dad’s and she was in a big hurry when I answered. She wasn’t able to get a hold of my mom’s mobile, and I was the next person on the list to call. My dad’s bleeding hadn’t stopped and he needed to be cut open again, they needed us to return to the hospital as soon as possible so they could get my mom’s consent for the emergency surgery.
I have never so much emotion in that very moment. I wanted to run, and I did; I ran to my mom, but when I saw her I was at a lost for words. I couldn’t speak, my body was shaking and my heart had dropped. My mom picked up my mobile and was updated by the nurse.
The emotion felt most at this point was anger. When assumptions were made and then broken, anger was the only feeling to develop. Experiencing it as part of grieving is necessary for a person because it means you have progressed past the first stage of denial. Drawing a line between how much anger is healthy and how much will cause more distress is hard to do. A professor from Columbia University who specializes in psychology recommends “repressive coping” (Konigsberg, 2011).
The next hour was a blur. My mom and sister were crying, while I remained silent. I drove us as fast as I could back to the hospital so we could see him again before we went in. We went into the ICU and saw nurses rushing everywhere and our dad still in his spot. My mom grabbed his hand and my sister and I stood close behind. She kept telling him we love him and to stay strong and keep fighting. My sister squeaked out “I love you, dad” and went back to crying. I was silent. I was still at a loss for words and couldn’t even squeeze out one word to say to him. I couched his hand for a second and had to turn away. If I looked at him any longer I would burst out in tears, but I didn’t want him to know how worked up I was. I just wanted him to I was there for him—we all were.
We went back into the waiting room where our extended family was waiting for us. We hugged and sat back in the same chairs we were in earlier that day. It was de ja vu, but felt much worse. We had no idea how long he would be in surgery this time and had no updates. I...