The Pain of a Family Member

by Karen Grimord on April 2, 2009

One Day Finished

There are many things around here that change with every visit and there is one thing that does not.  It is the pain of a family member who has a child here; it doesn’t matter if the child is 2, 22, or 32.

The mom of an ICU patient came in today.  I knew right away she had been crying, she wasn’t all red and puffy, but I could tell.  She had flown to Landstuhl immediately after getting the phone call that her daughter was here.  I have been on both sides of the hospital bed; the patient and the mother of the patient.  As the parent of a patient, it is as if a thick cloud has descended on you and you’re being suffocated.  With each breath, you feel as if your heart, mind, and body are paralyzed.  Your mind spins with the what ifs.   There is no peace within.

She explained that her daughter was in ICU and she needed a few items while she was here.  She started crying and leaned towards me.  As much as I could, I let her know with my eyes I was here for her and gave her a hug.  She said she had lost a child many years ago.  It was clear that the pain was as fresh as if it had happened last week and it was playing through her head “what if” it was to happen again.

She told me her daughter had a positive outlook and that she, too had to stay positive for her daughter.  I told her that having a positive outlook was half the battle.  She said that she knew, but that she just had a difficult time seeing her daughter here.  She explained that her father had been in the military before she was born; that this had been a fear of hers.

We talked about the beautiful quilts on the shelf and I pulled one down that was close to the colors that she had on.  I told her that we often refer to our quilts as a “hug from home.”  I put the quilt around her and gave her another hug.

The chaplain told her that we were here, if she needed to come down and cry, yell, or fuss.  I also told her we were here if she needed to take a walk with someone, or if she just needed a shoulder.

Fear can be a horrible creature.  It feels as if destruction is all around us and we will never capture nor conquer it.  We must turn to others for support and release it.  The chaplains here provide such an outlet.  They help to cage that horrible creature so control can be gained, little by little.

Today was also another long day of breaking toiletry bags down.  We needed small tubes of toothpaste and I had the great pleasure of disassembling all the bags that someone had obviously taken lots of time to put together.  Many of the snack bags had to be thrown away because they were full of hotel sized items that had leaked onto the other contents in the bag.  As in the past, I have arrived the day before a training holiday for the military.  Tomorrow I will work, but the military personnel will be gone.  I really don’t know how this happens every year, but I will work and it will be a great pleasure to do so.

Today I worked 9 hours, and I thank Sharon and Tom Buck for their contribution.

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