At the time I didn't know how I would do it, but I was able to take a stranger from crying to laughing on the worst day ever.
Have you ever been in a situation where it is so tragic you don't know what to say? Or maybe you're that person who can't find the words in the moment, but right after you leave a situation you think of a million ways you could have handled it differently. I totally get it!
We talk about positivity and gratitude and meditation and positive self talk -- but what happens when you have a bad day? Do you feel like you've failed yourself because you aren't happy all the time? The idea behind all of that is not that you will be happy all the time and never have a bad day, it's that you will know what to do when something bad does happen. Nobody teaches us that part...
So, how do I know all of this stuff?
I was a critical care nurse for 8 years. I was a part of a lot of bad days, the worst days in some people's lives.
- The day a parent gets a phone call because their child has been hit by a car
- The day a wife finds out her husband was in a motorcycle accident
- The day someone gets shot by a gun
- The day someone with mental illness gets attacked in an alley for not being normal
- The day a wife puts her husband to bed because he isn't feeling well and he never wakes up again
- The day someone with depression decides it is so bad that they want to jump off of a bridge and they do it
- The day a father finds out his son's cancer that was in remission is back
- The day a man gets into a car with his buddy after partying and they collide with a tree
Unfortunately, the list goes on and on.
BAD DAYS HAPPEN.
Just because you're a good person doesn't mean that you are never ever going to have a bad day. It doesn't work that way.
Let me tell you about the first time I was a part of the worst day of someone's life...
I remember it like it was yesterday, it was my first December as a nurse and Christmas was approaching. I was taking care of a young boy and his father, who never left his bedside. I was working nights and had been a nurse for almost 6 months.
Side note: nobody teaches you what to do in nursing school when you know someone is dying and you can't do anything about it and nobody teaches you what to say to a grieving parent.
The boy was on life support, getting a little bit worse every day, and not waking up. I remember helping his father decorate his room for Christmas. We put up a tree, we taped twinkle lights to the cabinets, and we posted the Christmas cards that family members had sent on the wall. Anything I was doing to care for his son that was safe for him to do, I taught his dad to do and stood with him while he helped look after his son. One day the medical team had the conversation with the family about how the care was progressing, what treatments were left to offer, and what the options were for proceeding forward.
It was Christmas Day when the decision was made to stop trying because continuing to try was going to cause more harm than good. I was the nurse on Christmas Eve, the night before that day. I remember crying. I remember asking a more senior nurse if I was allowed to let the young boys father lay in the hospital bed next to him that last night in spite of all of the equipment and machines and tubes and wires. The nurses I worked with helped me move him over in the bed to make room for his dad. His dad helped me reposition his son every two hours all through the night, I know he didn't sleep.
The next morning at 5am we sat in the room with the glow of the twinkle lights, it was the morning of the day that we were going to stop all of the medical treatments that were keeping his son alive. I looked at the boy's father and said, "I've only known you for a short time, and I've only known your son when he has been sick. Can I ask you to tell me about him? What kind of kid is he? What was he like when he was younger? Did he play sports?"
His dad smiled, probably the first smile since he had heard his son was in the hospital.
Then the most amazing thing happened. His dad started telling me everything. His son liked to play jokes on people to make them laugh... The memories were endless and we spent the next hour sitting and laughing and celebrating a life instead of waiting for it to end.
In spending time with these people on their worst day, I started hearing the same things over again. The thing that stood out the most was that people wished they had had more time.
It wasn't the patients saying this, it was their families. I could help take care of their loved one and I could help them celebrate a life, but I couldn't turn back time. That was when I decided I wanted to help people do what is important to them now so that when they are faced with their worst day, they are not wishing for more time.
This is why understanding your purpose in this world is so important. If you don't know why you are going through the motions every day of your life, then you let that time slip away. You fall into the habit of doing meaningless things that take up a lot of your time and distract you from the things and the people that are important to you. If this sounds like you, it's okay. A lot of people feel this way. If you're tired of being that person, I hear you! And I want to help you. Let's set up a time to chat and talk about what is keeping you from doing more of what makes you feel alive, successful, and happy.