Leaving Work at Work: a Guide to Distancing, not Detachment
Is there any better feeling than walking out of work at 5pm and heading home for the day, knowing that there’s nothing that can’t wait until tomorrow to interfere with your evening? This is a feeling many 9-5 workers know well and it’s something that can go underappreciated if you’re in a position to leave your work at work every day.
For hospice professionals, leaving work at work isn’t always so easy. Sure, you’re not going to bring a patient home with you or sit up long hours into the night checking charts, but that doesn’t mean the burden of your day doesn’t follow you home to rest upon your conscience. The emotional toll of losing a patient might leave you feeling fatigued for days, while the fleeting memories of a person’s last words might echo through your head long past bedtime—whatever the situation, the fact remains the same: leaving work at work is tough when you’re a hospice worker.
Everyone believes they have a stressful job at some point in time or another, but stress is a relative term that’s largely dependent on the tolerance of the person and the nature of their work. Despite being a subjective idea, however, it can be said that some careers are invariably more stressful overall and none quite make the top of the list in such a way as hospice nursing careers do.
Hospice nurses operate in an environment that is defined by stress. Tending to terminal patients day after day, knowing the inevitable end that is rapidly approaching is a stressful prospect in and of itself, but it’s only the core in a many-layered cocoon of stress. Families trying to cope, medical situations that require absolute attention and long hours create a full gamut of stresses that are not easily escaped or dealt with, leading to a myriad of concerns for the hospice nurse.
Conversations regarding terminal health conditions are varied and involve numerous different courses of action, different living options and treatment plans, but by and large, regardless of the details, these conversations are never easy to have. Because the outcome of any terminal situation is the passing of a loved one, many people feel like their options for end of life care are futile or, they cling to a hopeful resolve that suggests the prospect of recovery.