Did you know that more teens die in car accidents than anyone else? And also that car accidents are the number one killer of teens? Why does this happen? Well with all the use of drugs and alcohol and just being young and wild, it gives them this thrill to chase and so they do. They hop behind the steering wheel feeling half drunk and half high and they start driving all over the place, listening to loud music and waving their hands around like there is no tomorrow.
And suddenly for some of them, there isn’t. How did it happen? We were all home worried about him when we got the call from the police. How can it be? She was such a smart and pure young woman, she would rarely go out. Unfortunately the parents are the ones that have real grieving after something terrible happens. No parent should watch their child die, and especially when their kid is at the best age of their life. Being eighteen is exciting and you are the shine of the light in your parents’ eyes. They depend on you to make them proud once you finish high school to go out and grab life by yourself.
But there you go making some stupid stuff that costs you your life. And now the parents are mourning and grieving, not finding anything to hold on to. But then you have a stranger like this nurse, whom you think is in the hospital just doing her job when she tells you that your young man or woman has passed away. Your whole world breaks into pieces. You fall on the ground and you just want to smack your head to the concrete so hard, to join them in Heaven.
The pain is unbearable, right? You cannot find a grasp of breath. You can only cry and cry until the end of time. The nurse stays there with her eyes down, not knowing what to say or how to act. She brings you a glad of water, maybe a pat on the back, but other than just being formal, that’s it. That’s all the hospital rules permit her to do. You don’t think about it since your brain is in shock right now, but your pain is shared. That same nurse is feeling so much pain inside.
She was the one that got to see how bad your daughter’s head was hurt. Your daughter was only eighteen. And from her Facebook profile, she was beautiful and had a bright life in front of her. And that very same nurse saw her fractured skull and her head swell beyond limit, which is an image she cannot erase from her mind. That’s why she is craving to say something to you as a parent. Maybe hug you. Or just let you know that she is sharing the same soul breaking, brain scratching pain that you are feeling. But instead she stays there silent. And then cries all the way home. Because she wanted to let you know… you are not alone in your grief. Here is the story…
You were devastated. Absolute shock. Your daughter was brought in this morning unresponsive. She was a DOA, but also only 18 so we gave her our best shot. We worked her over for a good 45 minutes. There was no coming back from a closed skull fracture like that. We wouldn’t tell you, but we fanned out her hair so that you wouldn’t see the extent of swelling that had occurred. No parent should have to see their baby like that.
And I had to stand next to my physician while he broke the news in as best a way possible. Correction, there is no “best” way. It is empty, sucking and pulling, crashing and shattering news. Your world has one less person in it now.
No, she probably didn’t suffer. The car crash, that left one in critical condition and two others with moderate injuries, happened so fast that she could have blinked twice and it was over.
You fall to the nasty hospital floor, not caring for the bacteria that may be there. Your world just shattered. You are shattered. And I stand there with a grim face, my hands clasped in front of me. You clutch each other. You scream. You cry.
I don’t change facial expression. I offer any help that I can. You decline and cling to each other harder. I stand awkwardly beside you. I pass you kleenex. A glass of water. I stand in solitude support. I’m here as a column of supportive understanding to try to ease your pain and suffering in the most diplomatic, politically correct way that the hospital allows. I nod my head, I shake my head. I offer a pat on the back. Eventually I have to leave you. More family has arrived and I know that you’re in good hands.
What you don’t know is that I, too, am shattered.
I cry the whole way home. I looked up your daughter on Facebook. She was beautiful. Just graduated high school. She had a whole life and world ahead of her. It isn’t fair.
I beat my steering wheel and rage when I get home and park. I throw my nursing bag across the kitchen. I drop to the floor, like you, and cry.
Though I’m too young for children even close to your daughter’s age, I have a younger brother who is 18. He does just what your daughter was doing: riding around the back roads with friends late at night. It could have just as easily been him wrapped around that light pole dead in the road.
I am more sorry than you will ever know. Honestly, you can’t know. But I do. And hopefully your daughter does, too. I never knew her, but I grieved her just the same.
We nurses may not show it at times, are unable to show it —whether it be to save face, hospital policy, or to just be courageous and supportive— but we do care. Your hurts are our hurts. We grieve with you. So please, just know that your grief is felt. It is shared.