My sister-in-law is studying medicine in Switzerland. I asked her about her training and a number of things stood out to me about the way they view and care for their patients. One of the most interesting was how the nurses are trained to care for patients who die in the hospital.
Me: What are you trained to do when someone dies while under care?
Sister-in-law: Well, our nurses are taught to respect the patient, always.
Me: What do you mean by that? How does that look in this situation?
Sister-in-law: If we are given this special responsibility, we are taught to continue speaking with the patient as normal. We let the patient know what we are doing, what is next.
Me: That’s interesting. What else?
Sister-in-law: We open the window, so that the soul can move freely. We let them know that all is well, that they are in good hands and that they can move on.
Me: That’s wonderful. So compassionate!
Sister-in-law: Maybe so. It is just what we do.
Given the increase in normal death rates due to the COVID epidemic and the currently waxing strain on the system and those who compose it, I have to wonder if we are doing enough to support those on the front lines. That support may be direct, but it also might come in the form of indirect and seemingly unrelated specific acts of compassion.
The wheels of humanity need to be oiled in this moment.
Each of us is surrounded by fellow human beings in need of something, whether they are squeaky wheels or not. It may be an encouraging word, a swift kick in the pants, or a shoulder to cry on.
Every time you help a single body–even if they are a “nobody” to you or literally no longer in need of their body–you uplift the whole body of humanity.
My thought today? Never let yourself be too busy to serve another in whom there is response to move beyond his or her present limitations.