The Worst Injury I’ve Seen

posted in: Uncategorized | 12

I’ve been an ER nurse for almost twenty five years now, and I am frequently asked what the worst injury I have ever seen was. I always say, “A broken heart, because most people don’t die from it, and it can’t be fixed.” If a person gets killed, they are just dead. It was bound to happen to them, and they have moved on to the next life. Death was their destiny all along, as it is with all of us. If someone suffers severe injuries and does not die, they will generally get better, or will adjust to their disability. But those broken hearts, they last a lifetime.

A few years back, I interviewed a man named Sam who was in his ninth decade of life. He had a son who had died at age twenty four, it had happened fifty years prior to our interview. As we were talking about his son, Sam was crying. It was not just a tear running down his face, it was a 92 year old man wailing as he lamented for his son who had died in the 1960’s. That was when it became very clear to me that broken hearts never completely heal.

I have chosen a profession in which I get the honor of helping people begin their long walk through grief, and I would make the same choice of profession today. One of the few real negatives about it is that I have to live with the constant awareness that my turn to suffer the worst injury ever is coming. I try to ignore that harsh little reality, but then a mother has to say goodbye to her son, or a child says goodbye to her Dad, and I stand beside them powerless against their suffering. It is enough to crack the crustiest of old ER nurses.  So please do me a favor, if you have not lost someone you love today, take advantage of your intact heart. Be kind, give a hug, say a kind word, find some way to express your love for them. And if you know someone who is grieving, share in it with them, it soothes their pain. Then if you are fortunate, perhaps someone will do the same for you…when it’s your turn.


12 Responses

  1. Ann Lewis

    No words could me more true. Three years ago I mourned the death of my mother. My father passed away 27 years ago. About 7 months ago I almost died due to Meningitis/Encephalitis brought on by West Nile Virus, survival rate is 8-10% when it gets this far. Because of the injuries from the disease I mourned the death of my parents again like it had just happened. My husband who is an Emergency Physician and has been part of the EMS community for over 35 years and the first paramedic in Montana was brought to the near possibility of losing his wife and the mother of his children. For the first time in his life he was brought to the realization and experience of his patients. A more empathetic physician. Hug your loved ones it can change in a split second.

  2. Big medicine

    Dennis thank you for sharing your thoughts you never cease to amaze me.

  3. Vicki Hert

    Dennis, I remember when you told me that Grandpa told you this story. The minute I saw the name Sam, I knew it was him and now can’t stop crying. He was the greatest, kindness man I have ever or will ever know. My heart has broken many times in this life and it has a lot of scars, but I am blessed to know that I will see Gram and Gramp, Mom, my Uncle Barry (who Gramp was speaking of) and many others who went before me, in Heaven some day! Thanks, Dennis for spending time with Gramp! Vicki

    • Fat Man

      He was such a fine man Vicki. He taught me such a valuable lesson.

  4. misterbill

    I am an older man. I lost my wife of 38 years, my companion and best friend of 45 years in February of 2016. My grief was inconsolable. I went to a grief therapist. She was very good and I finished my therapy feeling I could start my return to normal or as near normal as is possible. I was watching a TV show a month or so after therapy and in it a man lost his wife of some large number of years and in a snap of a finger, I was more inconsolable than before. I had , shortly after her death, decided to take our boxes of photos and put them in some sort of order. Every time I started, I would see a picture of my sweetheart and become so sad that I could not continue.I finally, recruited my son to help me and we got it done. It only took one year to do it. Two days when my son helped me, about a year on my own.

    Today, I am moved to tears easily. I get all teary eyed when I see the joy of families when military person makes it home safely. I always felt that way, but I didn’t cry. I do now. I stay home –a lot. I avoid phone calls. I am worse off than when she first passed. My faith has me believing we will be together again in the hereafter. I often wish the hereafter was today. I sometimes, while reading or watching a TV show, suddenly start crying. Lord, God she was so loving to me and miss her so..I am old. My Mom and Dad passed many years ago. My grief was much shorter. I feel that because I was actively employed and raising a family then, the responsibilities helped me to accept the way of life and death and to alleviate my grief.


  5. misterbill

    PS We used to travel, domestically, quite a bit with children in NY, CT, OK and Nawlins. We played CDs while driving. In spite of the 15 years difference between us, we shared similar tastes in music. Sinatra, Rondstat. Love music in general. I have been unable to listen to the old songs without breaking into tears. An old friend told me I should stop listening for a while. I did and it worked. Recently, I started to listen again, but after a couple of weeks the sadness returned and I have to stop again.

    • Fat Man

      Misterbill, I have heard that grief peaks at two years, then people start to adjust to their new normal and life gets less painful. I guess never the same, but somewhat better. I am sorry that you are suffering. I would like to send you a book called “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. It has proven to be a comfort to many. My email address is Email me the address you would like it sent to. Thank you for sharing your journey, and love for your family.

  6. Judy

    There is nothing worse than losing your spouse, it has been almost 4 years ago, I will never get over it and I am like the last writer I am ready to go home to be with him.

  7. Krisena

    I just saw a repost of this “ramble” and I love that you referred to “A Grief Observed.” I listened to it on audio when I wasn’t coping well with my mother’s death. It’s a brilliant writing by C.S. Lewis. Felt like he was the only person who understood or could state my pain so eloquently.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. 💖 you Fat Man

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *