A picture of a young person handing the 'grim reeper' a flower. This is an image of when life and death meet.

I had an experience where life and death meet. Hence the hiatus between my last blog post published in early November and this one. Even after I wrote about committing to posting here on a regular basis. The hiatus wasn’t intentional. Obviously.

A medical crisis unexpectedly occurred on Remembrance Day. That day has taken on a whole new meaning. I won’t go into the details of the story as it is not my story to tell and the person in question wants privacy. But I can tell my story, edited in parts to protect privacy.

What happens when life and death meet

There was the onset of the medical crisis, death had opened the door. Then 2 seconds of panic. Then moving into action doing what needed to be done to save a life. Ensuring that life and living could stand fast while it stood on the threshold looking at death.

It’s scary when life and death meet

Going into detached mode helped. Thinking through logically what I had to do, sorting out the care that was needed and getting it. I was in the situation taking action. Yet detached reflecting on what was the best thing to do given the situation.

Looking back, the best decision I made was not to say to the person what I thought was happening was happening to them. Shutting the door to anxiety or panic. Showing concern for them yet remaining calm.

Sometimes when life and death meet, they then decide to part ways

Great care was given quickly by the NHS. A life was saved.

Then the routine of hospitals, tests and what felt like endless appointments with medical professionals. Recovery had started. Which included learning about the impact and the upcoming forever changes to a life. Learning about the medications, reading to learn more. And all the uncertainty. So. Much. Uncertainty.

Living in the bubble of illness

The rest of November and December felt like I lived life in a kind of suspended bubble with sporadic contact with the outside world. In that first month, if it wasn’t essential, it didn’t get done. It couldn’t. There wasn’t the time. Caring for someone in the acute phase of a medical crisis can be full time.

Even when things were just starting to calm down a little bit, I dropped the ball on a number of tasks and things I had promised people. I simply didn’t have the head and heart space to hold everything. Not everyone understood, made demands and all I wanted to do was tell them to f*&% off. But I didn’t.

Life continued but a new normal was dawning

Thanksgiving and Christmas were celebrated. Family visited for both. A busy time caring and guesting. Now life is returning to some kind of normality. A ‘new normality’ I often say. The life we knew has ended. Died. So although no one actually died, the life we knew and lived feels like it has died.

We are constructing a new one. Day by day. Experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. Learning with each new experiment.

Intentionally constructing your new normality is what you need to do

Day by day. Experiment by experiment. Learn. Keep going. Work in partnership. Although the alternative of doing nothing at times looks inviting because it’s not easy to construct a new normality, staying in the do nothing place wouldn’t be good for us.

Life will even start to look a bit like it did before. But looks can be deceiving.

When life and death meet, your life changes. We know our life has changed and we know the nuances of that change may not be readily visible to others. One thing remains the same, we work together in partnership and I’m so so so grateful I still have this living partnership.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2014

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