Reminders of Mortality
I’ve been doing physical therapy for sixteen years. The first twelve were in outpatient, the last four in home care. In home care you work on some pretty sick folk. Folk close to the end. Every day is a reminder that we’re not here forever. Our lives must come to an end.
In the past four years, of the hundreds of patients I’ve worked with, and the multiple deaths I’ve been notified of, only two have really rattled me.
Don’t get me wrong, I take all of them to heart. I care about my patients. To me they’re not just a diagnosis or a visit on a schedule. They’re people. People with memories and families and reasons to live. People who have touched the lives of others and been touched themselves. The least I can do is give them my very best and take my work with them personally.
The two that rattled me were both older gentleman, soft-spoken, sincere. They’d lived a lot and accomplished much in their lives. They weren’t famous or rich or even particularly successful according to most people’s standards, but they were real, they were genuine, they were kind and giving and treated others with respect. I admired them.
I heard about both of their deaths via a phone call, after I had just seen them a couple days earlier. Both were relatively healthy, certainly not sitting on death’s doorstep. And both were hard to take.
Their deaths (and the deaths of so many others) serve to remind me of a few things:
- Life on this earth comes to an end. Sooner or later we all have to pay the piper.
- It’s up to us to leave fingerprints on the lives of others. To a significant degree, we determine the legacy we leave.
- Make every contact with every person count for something. For me, this means taking my job seriously and my contacts with patients personally. Never forget that they are people, not numbers or visits or diagnoses. It also means to take my writing seriously. It’s my way of touching folks I can’t meet personally.
Question: How can you more effectively impact the lives of others? Who do you come in contact with that you can touch in a personal way?
Posted on April 29, 2013, in Christian Living, Life in General and tagged Death, Health, Home care, Mortality, patient, Physical therapy. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.
“Make every contact with every person count for something.” – We never know, do we, when that may be our last chance to have an impact in anyone’s life. Thanks for sharing and reminding me to make TODAYs time with others count for more than accomplishing some task.
Susan, it really makes you look at every encouter differently.
Thanks Mike. Although I’ve not trivialized my writing, I had lost sight of the fact that I’m writing for Him and for my readers. I now know this is the reason I’ve been in a writing rut, unable to produce anything for some time now. Lately, the Spirit has been talking with me about my focus. Today, He used your post to help jolt me back to the purpose He called me to write.
As for you, don’t worry about your heart. The first time I met you, I knew you care about people. It’s no wonder God kept you alive. You are a rare human being and we need more like you on earth to share God’s love. Keep on keepin’ on my friend.
Thanks for always being an encouragement, Bruce! Hope you get out of that rut soon.
Great reminder. Thanks, Mike.
This post hit particularly hard. My Dad is everything you described and doing home health care. I’m sure this will happen with him. Luckily I having been helping my parents a lot and have spent a lot of time there and a lot more to go. I am blessed to be able to spend so much time there.
Vicki, one of these gentlemen who recently passed was staying with his son at the end and his son told me he was so thankful to have those last seven weeks with his dad. It was a sweet time for both of them.
Thanks so much for posting this! I’ve shared this with my family, as it’s a good thing to remember no matter where you work. I recently visited a Doctor’s office, and one of his employees pretty much said the same thing!
Unfortunately, not everyone in healthcare feels the same way. I wish they did.
Great reminder that this world is not our home and we need to be prepared for our true home and help others see their need to be prepared. Your patients are lucky to have you. I’m sure that it brings them and their families comfort to know that they are cared for by someone who truly “cares for them”. I am so glad to have come to know these things about you. I love to know about the people who write the books I read and the music I listen to.
As I read these comments, I was reminded of this prayer of St Francis of Assisi, that we all know:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.