Monday, April 20, 2009

"I'm Very Sorry for Your Loss"

Last week we had three families lose loved ones within a 24 hour period. Oy.

This was the one thing I never thought about when I first took the job. I was too busy organizing linen closets and building spread sheets and giggling with delight about having a job that was all about hospitality and service to others, etc. etc. etc.

MAB and I were talking about it Friday, our hearts bowed down by sadness. She suggested that maybe we get too attached. I thought about that for a minute and then suggested that perhaps we do. Perhaps other managers of other houses keep a careful distance, deliver the rules and hand over the keys with a matter-of-fact briskness and then stay safe in their offices until the work day ends. But, I suggested, that's not our nature. We like to joke and stand around drinking coffee with the guests and when someone looks sad or burdened we ask why and offer hugs and, if we have them, words of encouragement. We like to organize bingo nights and bowling tournaments. It is, we think, part of the job. It is also, I think, part of the reason that our House is such a warm, peaceful, loving place. Our guests make it a home but I think it is MAB's and my heart toward our work that allows that magic to happen. And if that means that when someone like darling Mr. S. passes away we have to be veryvery sad, then so be it.

Plus, our sadness isn't from being "too close". There is a great deal we never know about any of the families who stay at the House. What we do know comes in snippets, shared by a guest as she drops off mail or asks if there is any sugar in the pantry. We're not too close in the way that we could correctly answer 20 intimate questions about any given person. Whatever sense of loss we feel is nothing, no.thing, to what the family is feeling.

But we do care. Can't help but. Ours is a work of caring and it is not in my nature or MAB's to be perfunctory about that. So we end up rejoicing when others rejoice and mourning when they mourn.

Some days we also get pie.

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Blogger Anne opined...

Sounds like you're doing a great job.

[insert my standard pie question here]

April 20, 2009 7:17 AM  
Blogger Buck opined...

Wonderful post.
The House is so fortunate to have you.

April 20, 2009 7:26 AM  
Blogger Dena opined...

There are to many people in service type org. that just go about the routine of the "work" I am very glad to here you and MAB are not those kind of people. Be envolved, Smile, hug when needed. Sounds like your doing a great job. Great post. Sorry I have not commented in a while I have however read everythingyou've written. Been Busy with the Beautiful Baby Grandaughter Emma

April 20, 2009 8:42 AM  
Blogger Willym opined...

In the work that you're doing there is always a chance that you may get"too close" but I can't see you doing anything else. Its your nature and those to whom you become close are lucky and though they may not say I am sure thankful for that closeness.

April 20, 2009 9:31 AM  
Blogger Mom opined...

If the price of friendship, laughter and caring is sadness when it is lost, then it is a price worth paying.

April 20, 2009 10:37 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

[insert standard pie answer here]

And I'm lucky to have the House, Buck.

Dena! Good to see you again. Nibble some of those baby toes for me!

Wills, that's what I was telling MAB...we could try to stay above it all but it just isn't in either of our natures.

Mom, yep. Goes with the territory.

April 20, 2009 11:08 AM  
Blogger Doralong opined...

It's hard to maintain professional detachment. In my case many patients are people that have been in the practice and I have known(or at the old one, Doogie is too young yet- but it will happen) for many years,and do actually know all the gory details and all the relatives. In many cases it's a blessing when they do go, knowing the pain and suffering that person has gone through. But some times it's devastating, truly. In all the years I've been in medicine I've never figured out how to reconcile it, so I stopped trying. The house is lucky to have you, as are you the house Cuz.

April 20, 2009 1:11 PM  
Blogger rosemary opined...

Mom and Doralong said it all giving is a sad business most days.

April 20, 2009 2:42 PM  
Blogger Sling opined...

This is why I love you.
..and the pie.
But mostly this.

April 20, 2009 6:22 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Dora, I think that's the best can't reconcile it so no need to try. Some days are sad and some aren't and really, ain't that just life in a nutshell anyway?

Rosie, most days it's a happy just gotta be willing to take the bitter with the sweet.

I love you, too, Sling. Anne didn't eat all the pie, neither, so here you go...

April 20, 2009 9:33 PM  

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