*written March 2, 2020 at 6:20pm after the 3rd Death Call of the day*
You receive a call that a patient has died.
You ask all the basic information patient name, nature of death, who is present in the room, etc.
You gather yourself, go up to the room, and are met with red and confused eyes.
You offer condolences on behalf of the chaplain’s office and then are met with the questions “what do we do now?”
You offer the first step as prayer and pray with and for the family.
You sir with them and observe their state of confusion, as they wrestle with the swift transition of their loved one.
They were not prepared.
They had no idea what happens next.
You, remembering the process from another call, ask if there was a funeral home already picked out.
They share who they were considering but did not even know how that was supposed to work or if they even have the services requested and broke down crying.
You wanting to relieve some of the burden offer to contact the funeral home to ask preliminary questions like do they offer certain services and is there a chapel available for a memorial service?
They say it would be a great help, and you excuse yourself to do so.
You get the information, give them the name of the family, and return to relay the information.
The family does not want to belabor the situation, so they ask for the process to be done as quickly as possible.
They wanted to know how to let the funeral home they wanted their services and had a couple more questions.
You step back out, but before making the call, you talk to the nurse and ask the procedure.
She explains it to you and gets the confirmation from the family.
You call the funeral home to get the answers for the family and are informed that they are able to come “within 30 minutes or less” as long as all the paperwork is complete. They just need the nurse to call.
Asking the nurse how to proceed forward, she says the paperwork is done, and they can come.
I tell her I am not able to make that call that she has to talk to them directly, so I let the funeral home know that they nurse will be taking over the call, and I returned to the family.
Everything seemed to go off without a hitch until it was time for her to be released.
The paperwork was not complete.
There were donation stuff that was not solidified.
And, the AOD (Administrator On Duty) had not released the body.
You walk around the corner to hear the AOD say “this chaplain was acting outside of…” in an extremely frustrated tone.
You stand and patiently wait to get off the phone to which he tells you that he had been informed that you called the funeral home to release the body and asks if you are from the other location.
So, you walk him through the steps of how everything happened and how in fact you did physically make the call, but it was not to release the body. It was to get clarity. And that it was in fact the nurse who gave the official release.
He changed his tone and said he was not upset and that it was no one’s fault. There was miscommunication, and he went on to explain the process.
The nurse comes around the corner and apologizes for the confusion and accepts responsibility for what happens stating that she was not fully aware of the entire procedure. She admits to releasing the body saying that she thought it was done and even mentioned that she was not used to handling deaths everyday, and this was her third for the day.
She was simply going on me memory from the other two.
The older nurse chimes in saying she knew the process and was sure it could not happen the way it was.
After continued discussion, the AOD thanks you for your service, the nurse apologizes, the older nurse gives you the nod of “it’s not your fault” and you turn and get on the elevator.
Now, how were you supposed to know it was the blind leading the blind?
Even the AOD admitted that the floor and staff were new, so it was no one’s fault; though, his tone and body language said something different.
So, you left what started off as a good call, all things considered, and ended with feelings of incompetence and guilt because now you added more stress to an already stressful environment all because you were blind, and you unknowingly let another blind person lead you 😔😢😭
I wasn’t trying to overstep.
I offered because they were too distraught to do it themselves, but they wanted things done… They cried whenever they mentioned it… I was just trying to lighten their load…
I thought I was doing the right thing by asking the nurse and following her guidance.
Now, I’m riddled with guilt because I’ve caused confusion for a family.
How was I supposed to know that she was not aware of the full process?
I trusted her to be the expert, as she was on the hospice floor.
But, my ignorance with her ignorance made things a little heavier… And, I have to sit with that 😔
I feel like I really messed up this call.
I feel terrible 😭😭😭
All because you unknowingly allowed another blind person to lead you, a blind person…