David shares with a us a story he was told by a nurse caring for a patient at the end of his life.
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
So says Hamlet to Horatio.
Despite being a Chaplain, I am more like Horatio than Hamlet. I deal with stuff and am not a great fan of the supernatural. In my experience, I’ve found that usually a “supernatural” experience can be explained in scientific terms. That’s just the way I’m built.
So when other Vicars might look for supernatural explanations, I find myself with the more prosaic.
“Where did this happen? What were the precursors? Who was around? What stimulation in the environment?”
That’s the hospital way. Science and explanation. Steeped in modernity.
So I pass onto you an experience that a nurse sent to me via email. It is full of care and compassion and commitment and competence and communication and courage.
But it has one more element that is more difficult to explain.
I wonder how it happened? To be honest I don’t know, but I have a feeling that the synergy between nurse, patient and relatives had something to do with it. Have a read and let me know what you think:
“I just had to share my experience the other night while on shift.
“I had been looking after a gentleman who was quite poorly, he was too ill to dialyse as his blood pressure was low and he was frequently in severe pain with bilateral leg ulcers.
“His family took turns to visit and he had many lovely pictures and photos of the grandchildren by his bed, which is always lovely to see.
“A few days passed and it was handed over that my patient was coming towards the end of his life. I made a side room available for his personal privacy and dignity and more space for the family to be by his side at this very personal time.
“I introduced myself using hello my name is to some of the family members I hadn’t yet met and made my patient comfortable. We gave mouth care, syringe driver for pain relief and gentle medications to make him as comfortable as possible.
“I got the z-bed and other things for the family to stay, offered them hot drinks and a listening ear if they needed anything at this difficult time.
“Over the following two nights I could see the family were getting upset and anxious as to how long they would see him suffering and they asked us to advise how long this would last. I made arrangements for other members of staff to finish my medications so I could spend time with the family to go over their fears and concerns.
“While I was in the room, the grandaughter came in and said to me that she had a premonition that he would pass away at 10pm that evening and would be greeted by his wife who had also passed away a few years ago. I listened and carried on with my duties.
“At 9.50pm the family called me, very excited. I came into the room and they told me his breathing had changed and they felt it was going to be imminent. The granddaughter started crying, saying “I told you, I told you! Nanny is coming to get you granddad, I told you!”
“Just then, the patient opened his eyes for the first time in a while, looked around and took his last breath at exactly 10pm.
“I will never forget the elation on the faces of the family. To hold on to hope that he will be met by his loved one, at peace, with family by his side was so emotional.
“All of a sudden beautiful fireworks rang around the hospital and local area, pretty colours lighting up the sky, and the family starting crying again, smiling, ecstatic. They explained that he was born on firework night, so he came in to the world to fireworks and went out to the sound of fireworks.
“The family finally left with their hearts sad but totally elated by the special experience they witnessed this evening. Whether everything that happened that evening was just coincidental or not, they have taken comfort from this spiritual experienceand I was so lucky to be part of it.”