I have worked as a hospice massage therapist for almost three years and I did not witness someone die. However, a few days ago, I witnessed my first death.
My patient, John, was in his eighties. He died from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. When I arrived at his apartment, his wife, children, and grandchildren where present. They were tearful as John neared death.
I am kind and supportive to the patient’s family, but I focus on my patient. Johns breathing was irregular with a slight pause between his breaths. I gave him a gentle massage on his hands. I’m also a Reiki energy worker, and I could feel happiness radiate from his heart.
After about 10 minutes, I moved to the foot of the hospital bed to hold John’s feet. After a few minutes, I saw him smile. I told his family members that he smiled and the family gathered around him. Then he smiled two more times. I told his family that “I think it’s getting close.”
John stopped breathing. John’s wife held is face and spoke loving words to him. They knew each other since they were 14 years old.
After a minute, I thought he died, but then he started breathing again. John’s daughter looked at me with confusion. As he breathed, he started to turn purplish gray. John took a few more breaths and then he died. As I gently held his feet, I closed my eyes.
It was a peaceful death. I started to cry with the family. I felt so honored to be there. I silently said “thank you” to John.
John had a close family. It was beautiful how they supported John during his dying process. They loved him so much.
I remember the quote by Todd Burpo, “The one thing love requires is to let others know they are not alone.” We need to be there for each other. We are together in life and in death.
I am so grateful to be alive. I want to rejoice in my continued opportunity to live my life to the fullest.