Dealing with death in the face

Travailler avec la mort en plein visage

A former journalist and illustrator, judicial, Delphine Bergeron has been working for several years as a counsellor in mental health. She has agreed to work in a ltc facility in the Montreal area in mid-April to lend a hand during the crisis of the sars coronavirus. Each week, she shares with us her experience.

I knew that I côtoierais the death in me volunteering to work as a patient care attendant in a CHSLD in the midst of a crisis of the COVID-19.

But the grim reaper first hit where I expected the least, in link with how my life was before the pandemic.

My clock wakes me up from one end of a strange dream, a midi. I see two men carry the body of an old lady. She is in a sitting position ; I think of the rigor mortis.

I close the dial of my cell, and I see a text message received from a colleague.

“Dorothy (fictitious name) is deceased. ”

Dorothée is one of the patients which I was involved prior to the pandemic, in my work as an advocate in mental health and intellectual disabilities.

This news reached me in the heart.

It takes me a moment to realize, and then I cry. What is sad, is that Dorothy has no family.

It is us, his family ; the stakeholders and users of the resource that she had been frequenting for more than 10 years.

I am taken aback when I met my immediate superior in the elevator of the ltc facility where I work at the moment.

He knows Dorothy for much longer than me and noticed my sad look. It suggests to me to speak of Dorothy with the social worker.

Arrived in my red zone, I say to my colleague attendant that I am in mourning. “Why are you here ? Go home “, said he.

But I prefer to work and feel useful by helping people. Residents me make it well.

These patients, who comfort

I was sad at the beginning of the work. I’m entering in the unity of life and Ms. Picard (fictitious name), in her wheelchair, with a table in the cafeteria.

I sat there, pitiful, like a poor child. We looked at it and she immediately understood, despite his dementia. She comforted me with his words and his heart of grand-mother.

During the evening, I send an email to the social worker of Dorothy.

It puts me in contact with people in the office of the public curator who folder.

The ashes of Dorothy

The curator asked me if I would like to keep the ashes if no one claims it. Of course yes.

I contacted the spiritual advisor of my institution, to ask him to do a funeral mass for Dorothy in the chapel.

Dorothea deserves a funeral worthy of the name. The patients who worked alongside him have the right to attend his funeral to help them in their time of grief.

The death related to the COVID-19 was also inevitable and, as if that wasn’t enough I cross it that night.

Andres, the guy of the household, has found Ms. T died while I was in the break a supper. He has alerted the new, a voluntary military. I took Andres with me and we went to pray at the bedside of Mrs. T.

We can’t kneel because of the virus. I set little guy. Andres I was imitated. I recited the Our Father ; towards the end, Andres was muttering prayers in Spanish. I made the sign of the cross on the forehead of Mrs. T.

The guys from the morgue arrived with their stretcher. We closed the doors to the rooms.

It is the custom when bringing bodies out of the CHSLD for saving the sight to the residents.

We have guided the guys to the room of Mrs. T. A began by spraying a liquid on the face of the deceased.

The other déballait bags of white plastic. He dropped one on the body.

Goodbye Mto me T

I T, died of the COVID-19.”>

Two employees of the morgue came to look upon the body of Mrs. T, who died of the COVID-19.

They put Ms. T on the stretcher, in another bag, white, zipper.

I asked them to stop, by the time I redo the sign of the cross on the forehead of Mrs. T, through a layer of plastic.

They emerged through a lift discreet, at the end of the unit.

I thanked them and I redid yet another triple sign of the cross.

Death is a transition as important as the birth. Spiritual rituals celebrate those passages in life, then death, of a loved one.

Me, my mourning, I pass in the action.

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