“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting for this is the end of all mankind and the living will lay it to heart.”
I’ve been reading through Ecclesiastes this week and I came upon this verse.
A few years ago, I remember reading this verse and wondering where the house of mourning was. I know now. Any nursing home or extended care facility is full of mourners; mostly, it holds those who are mourning their loss of independence and complete dependence on the staff, but occasionally family visits who are mourning the impending loss of a loved one.
Today was my last day of clinical for the semester. As I went around to all of the residents I have taken care of over the semester, one thing stuck out at me. They all remembered something specific about me, something different, even if I hadn’t taken care of them since January, but they also all remembered me specifically, even if they didn’t remember the other girls who were with me and also took care of them I started wondering why that was and realized that it was probably because I invested my time in getting to know them. I spent time with all of them, talking about their lives, what they have learned through their lives, their stories, and with some of them, reading the Psalms and singing hymns.
There were days when I came home so emotionally and physically exhausted that I crashed at noon and slept for hours. But there were other days that God used the residents to encourage me. Today was one of those days, and I thank God for it. All of my patients are dying, some closer than others, and they are all thinking about and reflecting on the meaning of life. Several have become angry, masking their fear. Others become sweeter and sweeter, leaning on Christ to carry them through this last period of suffering. All of them have taught me something, and I will lay it in my heart. At the end of school I will probably not remember their names, but I will always remember their stories and how God used both them and me to show His glory in that nursing home this semester.