This is always a hard day to observe as I think back over my 20 years of nursing and of all the patients that I have cared for, laughed and cried with and discharged to home or rehabilitation facility etc. Words can never express the feelings that you go through as a nurse when you know that the care that you are giving will be leading to death. How do you stare death in the face? Well, I have learned now over the years that Healing does not always mean that you are being discharged to continue recovery at a physical home location. Healing is preparing the body to be received at a spiritual home where pain no longer exist. The greatest moments of seeing that your patients are dying is when you realized that some have become so calm and not fretting again because they have accepted the journey that they are passing over from this earthly world to the spiritual world where peace and tranquility becomes a reward.
I have cared for patients in civilian and military settings. My first experience of death in nursing was when I was a nursing student and I lost my patient and I had to assist with care after death and taking the patient to hospital morgue. I was so scared and I cried so much that the patient family members were consoling me. LOL. My clinical instructor pulled me aside and said “Judy, you have to get it together.” It was that moment of confirmation that I knew this was where God wanted me to be as a professional. Everyday since then my faith, passion and compassion has grown as a person and nursing professional.
I found it harder caring for soldiers so young, Vietnam and Gulf War veterans ending life. Maybe, it was the special bond that I had developed being a nurse and soldier too; or maybe it was just knowing the many sacrifices that they have made in their careers as professionals for the love of country. Sometimes, I wondered would it be easier if it was sudden death due to accidents because knowing that one is battling a chronic/terminal illness that involved so much pain before the end was harder for me as their nurse. Some days you feel so lost for words and wish their was a magic wand to wipe away the many emotions that people experience up to the end of life.
Well on this memorial day I want to say thank you all fallen soldiers for your dedication and love of country as you when through the end of life. May your souls rest in peace. For those active duty soldiers alive, please take care of yourselves and thank you for your service to our country. For my veteran brothers and sisters, I thank you as well for your dedicated service. May God continue to richly bless the families who mourn their love ones on this day and bless the active duty and veterans too.
Love, peace and many blessings,
Dr. Judy E. Vansiea
Former United States Army First Lieutenant
United States Army Nurse Corp