Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Shroud

Yesterday morning when I came into work one of our patients had passed away.As the RN.on duty went about filling out the death certificate I went to check the deceased patient.
When ever a person dies,after the family and the funeral parlor are called,the aides go into the room and wash the body put a johnnie on it,comb and fix their hair,put on their glasses, adjust the sheets and blankets,then put their hands in a prayer position,if Catholic they entwine rosary beads around the persons fingers.
Now most people would think this is a disgusting thing to have to do but it is truly an act of love.To wash the remains of someone you may have taken care of for several years and make that person look presentable to a distraught family is not only an act but a gift of kindness.
My job is to make sure the patient and the room looks presentable.All medical things like IV.poles,suction machines and oxygen tanks are removed.I also check the body to make sure all dressings,Foley Catheters and Picc Lines are taken out.
When the funeral attendant came this morning,to pick up the body,I went into the room to assist him.
We first shrouded it with the fitted sheet on the bed.The top part is folded over the head,the bottom over the feet and the sides of the sheet go over the remaining torso.Being lent and all I began to think this is how Jesus must have looked being shrouded after being taken down from the cross.
The attendant must have read my mind because he talked about going to a nursing home where a nurse asked him What he was doing with the sheet?
He told me I explained to her that "shrouding is a sign of respect,this is still a person deserving of what any living person is entitled to".He went on to say "Even Jesus was shrouded".
We then lifted the body and placed him on the stretcher,belted him in place,closed the bag and covered the top with a quilt.
After making sure the halls were clear of patients we moved the stretcher out of the room into the hall.My Director of Nurses,who happened to be walking by, touched the patient foot and said Goodbye to him in Polish.
Every person is just that a person and even if your soul is no longer in your body you are still due respect.Before you stopped living you contained the breath of God and this vessel we call your body is your temple fashioned by him.The bible says we are made in the image and likeness of God.If you believe this then any less respect would be an insult not only to man but to God.

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