Don't Rush Me
“Hey, I’m just calling to let you know, my husband died this morning. We planned out everything a few years ago. You should have his file.”
This wasn’t an unusual call. I got these all the time, and at this point, could pretty much handle them with my eyes closed.
“Thank you for letting us know, if you’re ready, I can dispatch our team to bring him into our care.”
She wasn’t ready yet.
She wanted to spend some more time with her husband before letting us take him. This also, was not unusual. Every once in awhile, we’d get a call that the family wanted us to arrive at a particular time, to give other family members the chance to get to the place of death, and say goodbye.
I asked her when she wanted us to come.
“Ummm, how’s 7:00am Monday morning?”
It was Saturday. This officially moved into my domain of out of the ordinary.
“Are you sure? You don’t want us to come until Monday? That’s two days from now.”
I felt silly stating the obvious. It felt safe to assume that she knew what day it was. Then again, if she was in the fog, she probably didn’t.
“I’m aware. I’m not ready for him to go yet.”
In this moment, I thought of Mr. Jones. I knew what he’d say. “Baby, he done already went!” While I chuckled internally, I knew that wasn’t the appropriate response. I took a breath to ask more about why she didn’t want us to come, but she continued speaking.
“I don’t know you, and he doesn’t know you, and I’m not ready to have him snatched away. Why does this have to happen so quickly? Why is everyone rushing me? How did he go from being my husband to just another dead body? ”
This stopped me cold in my tracks. I realized that she wasn’t going to budge, and I needed to give her what she was asking for.
I arranged for my team to be there at 7:00am on Monday, and met with her later that same day. There was a peace about her, and she thanked me for understanding. I didn’t, but I was happy that she seemed to have gotten what she needed.
Most of the other death positive pages/blogs/social media accounts will tell you that there is nothing unsafe about a dead body, and that’s true. It’s us, as people, that have decided that there is something taboo about spending more time with your loved one’s body, before they’re taken away by a stranger.
I’d never truly thought of it like that, but in that moment I understood.
We are strangers to these people, and they’re trusting us with the most important person in their lives. To take care of them with dignity and respect.
What an honor.