Suddenly struggling after >20 years working with the dying

(7 Posts)
FreddieStarrAteMyHamster Fri 17-Jan-14 14:13:52

I've worked with both children and adults with cancer for over 20 years and have experienced many deaths; supported both the person and their family through the process and the families afterwards. I've always coped ok, until just now. I had a small health scare myself recently and that seems to have triggered a terrible feeling of loss and anxiety. I'm constantly reflecting, in particular about the young people who died and how I could have supported them better. i spent the whole day yesterday while DD at school thinking and shedding a tear about a 1 year old baby who I looked after 15 years ago and how I should have stayed in touch with his parents after he died. Im still working with patients and coping ok at work but the emotional burden seems so high at the moment. Sorry don't know what I'm asking for, but it has been useful to write this down.

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debka Fri 17-Jan-14 14:18:14

I work a little bit in palliative care and I know that cumulative grief can be an issue- where you don't really grieve for someone properly at the time, and the grief comes out later. I think you need to take yourself seriously, as it were, and allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, express the emotions and let yourself grieve. Does your company offer any counselling? That may be helpful.

flowers and a hug xxx

Lagoonablue Fri 17-Jan-14 14:20:59

Try occupational health. If you work in this sector there must be support?

I think it sounds normal to me though no expert. Well done you though for doing such a tough but necessary job.

FreddieStarrAteMyHamster Fri 17-Jan-14 14:24:17

Thanks debka. I'll make myself an appointment with the counselling service, I think. I suppose I just feel a bit surprised, why now, etc. I just feel so terribly sad. I have tried giving myself my usual talking to, that my sadness is nothing compared to what those families experienced. But it's not working this time as I just get more upset for them. It's like I've been hit by overwhelming empathy.

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FreddieStarrAteMyHamster Fri 17-Jan-14 14:25:41

Thanks Lagoonablue. I will make an appointment with our staff counselling to work this through.

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MrsClauswearsspanx Fri 17-Jan-14 14:26:29

I'm wondering if you could work in a different department for awhile? Speaking about myself who has done similar work for 7 years, I needed a break, emotionally. I was able to get a transfer.


FreddieStarrAteMyHamster Fri 17-Jan-14 14:35:54

I thought about a break/change but I'm in a sought after position with a good manager, family friendly hours and projects to see through. My manager wouldn't have a clue I'm like this as I'm performing normally. I feel if I leave I won't go back. I'll see if I can stay in work and get past this. My thoughts are that we get very little in the way of resources to reflect and maybe this pause is long overdue.

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