Even death cannot separate (My Patient Has Died Part 6)

I’ve wanted to write this for the longest time but it’s just been so difficult to start. Today I’ve been able to gather a few words so here we go…

Let’s call her Liz( not her real name for the purpose of confidentiality).

I met Liz during my rotation in the Newborn unit. She had just undergone an emergency Caeserian section. She looked tired. Every step she took as she walked looked painful. You could see it as she carefully lifted each leg to take a step.

Her legs were swollen following to a complicated pregnancy. She had breathing difficulties and couldn’t produce breast milk but all these didn’t prevent her from going to the nursery every 3 hours to see her new born baby.

Her baby( let’s call her baby Liz) was very sick and tiny. She had to be delivered premature (earlier than expected) . A feeding tube, oxygen mask, overhead heater, IV fluids were all in place to support baby Liz.

I decided to have a chat with Liz as she sat beside her baby. She cried as she narrated the horrible turn of events. The once uneventful pregnancy quickly became her greatest nightmare. It was her first pregnancy.

There was such rawness to her narration. The wound was open and in the midst of her sharing her painful story, I remember telling her that things would be ok though at that moment, it was almost impossible to say anything that would make the situation better.

Unfortunately, baby Liz passed on 1 day later. That was a difficult pill to swallow- I was invested in Liz’s pain. I carried her pain in my heart, thought about it and hoped for a miracle.

How does such a natural process as pregnancy end up causing harm not just to the baby but also to the mother?

The thought of the pain Liz endured to bring her baby to this world was unbearable and this weighed so heavily in my heart. It disturbed me in fact. And this was the story almost each day in the newborn unit ; where you meet a baby today and tomorrow they are gone… you interact with mothers and sometimes even give them a flicker of hope only for it to be crushed when their baby died.

My time in the Newborn Unit (NBU) and paediatrics rotation was one of the most emotionally exhausting seasons, watching countless resuscitations and most being unsuccessful. I don’t think I questioned my decision to join medical school as much as much as I did during this period.

Nobody prepared me for this.

Nobody showed me how to deal with losing patients.

No one told me that this was part of the deal- where I would watch someone die and be expected to quickly move on.

The fragility of life became so real and it was easy to be indifferent. I asked myself alot of questions-

Why do I work so hard?

What’s the point anyway when we know what the end for everyone is?

The reality is, losing a patient or just anyone you get to interact with leaves you scarred. It takes away something from you. It’s confusing and painful . I don’t even know if one can truly learn to cope because you just never get used to it. If that place exists, then I’m still learning and I’m on my way there.

However, in those moments I’ve found so much comfort in letting God in and allowing Him to take me through the pain and confusion.

I love the accuracy of this hymn- What a friend we have in Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

So I take it all to the Lord in prayer for no pain is too much for Him to handle.

I also find talking about it quite therapeutic – learning to express my emotions at that moment with no guilt. Cry if that is what it takes, journal, scream just whatever it takes to let it out.

I also have hope. Hope in eternity – that when all is said and done, we will be in a better place. This world is not our home, we are just passing by…

Every death is a reminder that I’m getting ready to go home.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I Corinthians‬ 15:55-57‬ NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

Our bodies may wear out, grow old, and die; we may be buried in the ground, but we will live on, through the power of the One who conquered death.

Where is the sting of death? For us believers it has none, for it is the beginning of a new and glorious life.

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans‬ 8:38-39‬ NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

Not even death can separate us from the love of God.

Be blessed.

By Winnie Abila