we keep on burying our dead
we keep on planting their bones in the ground
but they won’t grow
the sun doesn’t help
and all we’ve got
is a giant crop
of names & dates
~ Regina Spektor Lacrimosa

We’ve had several deaths recently. One that was unexpected and quick. I wasn’t there that night. Came in the next day and was looking at the update sheet at the nurses station. “Passed”

And then, there are those others. Expected deaths. Deaths where the entire staff is on edge, checking, re-checking. Shift change conversation,

“Is she still here?”
“why . . .?”

Dear Lord, Why?

And then after that,
how, Lord, how are we supposed
to deal with this?
All this death
It’s unnatural

The pain
we see in the final moments

The struggling for air.
Good Lord,
the struggling for air!

the eyes.
wanting to be cosed
glazed eyes.

the mouth.
god see that mouth
do you know
the death mouth.

that toothless
deep dark hole.

oxygen in the nose
but they don’t use it.
gulps of air.
somehow brought in
through that gaping
death mouth.

into the lungs
that keep going
long after they should have stopped

People say that the dying hang on because of ‘unfinished business. I don’t buy that shit.  It’s just torture. And these are not “extraordinary measures” people. These are DNR people. Holding on, even though they are physically unable to swallow anything.

and what we,
left here,

what do we do now?
what do we do in the mean time?
and i don’t mean
for that person.
make her as
comfortable as possible

but how
how do we deal?
how are we supposed to
process death?
over lunch.
over a cigarette.
if that.

and then
back to work:
wiping butts
& popping pills.
shoving food
down the living.


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