Let me preface this by saying that I'm really only putting this out here because I literally have nowhere else I feel I can put this information that the family / our friends won't see it, but I need to get it out.
A couple nights ago a friend of mine (let's call her G) had a cardiac incident and was found in one of the bathrooms in a library on campus. After unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate her, she was brought to the nearby UW Medical Center where she has been in the ICU in critical condition for now two days.
Over the past two days I've seen our friends go through an extremely wide range of emotions. We've canceled our dance practices, created time to just sit and be with each other and write cards, etc. Her roommates and other close friends have been especially devastated, as you can imagine. They currently maintain a message thread on FB to keep other close friends updated on G but I know that's extremely difficult for them because it's amounted to a lot of people continuously asking them if there's new information on G.
Last night I was in contact with her brother (one of my closest friends, let's call him R) and found out he was at his family's house by himself while his parents were still at the hospital. I stayed over with him at his house last night and took him out for a short drive, and got him some food.
Early this morning R was speaking to his mom and he gave me the phone, saying that she wanted to speak with me directly. She told me (through tears) that G's condition has significantly worsened since last night and oxygen is no longer flowing to her brain, and that they expect to lose her soon. She asked me to stay with R today and to keep him company because she knows he is coping with this in a different way than she and his dad are. She said that other family is starting to come in from out of state as well.
Earlier yesterday I volunteered to have information come through me and that I would distribute it to others in order to lessen the stress on the family and G's other close friends constantly being asked for information. However, and understandably, the family has asked us to keep new information closed for now.
This is so damn hard. And I know it's absolutely nothing compared to what the family is going through right now, but I have no idea how I'm supposed to help more than I am right now or even if I can. My best friend is about to lose his really young sister (she's only 21) and all I can do is watch her friends and family try to deal with this ridiculous situation. A lot of my friends are younger than me and in the past I've prided myself and built a reputation on being able to provide help for others when they feel like they need help. But I've finally hit that situation where, despite knowing it is not my responsibility to help everyone in this case, I have no real idea of what I'm supposed to do or say. I don't even know if I should tell her close friends that the family has requested that we don't share any updates for now because I don't want to cause them unnecessary alarm.
Any insight or experiences that people can share about this would really help me out. For now I'm staying with my friend R at his house while he waits for new information from his family. --- http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v129/ukealii50/kylo.jpg - Thanks uke! http://img193.imageshack.us/img193/829/07kyloforce.png - Thanks Diyosa!
Man, that's pretty tough. Do I have it straight, that you are the relay point for info and you're currently closed to the outside on the orders of the family? And your dilemma is, how to you treat the family, and how do you talk to those on the outside who want information?
For the second part, just do what you're told. That part is easy. If the family said "don't say anything," then don't. If someone asks, say "I was told not to talk about anything. That's all I can say, please respect the wishes of the family." Nothing worse you can do on that front than betraying their trust and the mission they put on you.
For the first part, well, just be present. Is there anything you can do to make them feel better? Probably not. So don't try. Nothing sounds worse than someone asking 'what can I do to help?', etc... If you've gone to this level already, her family understand that you are there to help. You don't need to tell them. When they need you, they'll tell you. Until then, let them be. If it is normal or natural for you to be around them, then simply be present for them. --- SIGNATURE
Yes, I elected to be the new point of contact for outside parties because the previous point of contact were two of her best friends and I can tell that the strain was already getting to them. One of those friends has already contacted me this morning from her Korean class asking me "how can I go on" and "I'm sitting here in my Korean class and I have her notebook and her handwriting and I cannot handle this right now." I've since been in contact with her and she said that she was going to visit later today (actually around now) with approval from the mom.
I made this post earlier in a bit of a panic because I have literally never been in a situation where a friend's mom is telling me that her daughter is more than likely going to pass away and to "please take care of her son" because "he copes with these things differently than we do" and to make sure that he eats and gets some rest. I just didn't know how to process that information at the time and I don't know if I ever will, but I think I did the best I can.
Right now R's cousins are on his way to his house to take him to the hospital so he asked me to leave. I told him that I would still relay information on their behalf and to let me know when and what it would be all right to tell other people. I consulted with my friend who is an RN (and has also been helping our other friends process/deal with this) and he gave me good advice for being this kind of information relay since he's seen this situation much more often than I do (and I have no idea how in the hell he manages to deal with this as well as he does. But I guess that's why he's a nurse and I'm not.)
I think things are going to be okay. I care a lot for these people because, as I said, I know a lot of these people are my friends but I also know they look up to me because they ask me for a lot of advice for many other things; the majority of them are still students in school/very close to her in age.
Again, thanks for the support. --- http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v129/ukealii50/kylo.jpg - Thanks uke! http://img193.imageshack.us/img193/829/07kyloforce.png - Thanks Diyosa!
The fact that you volunteered to be the point of contact is leaps and bounds above what the average person would do in this situation. You've gone above abs beyond what is necessary to do, and though you might not realize it, I'm sure the family does.
The only advice I can give is to continue to reach out to them. Offer any assistance you can, but don't be overbearing, which I don't think you are. --- Well, there is a new accent of n00b language. It's called: Vet LUEser goes Foreign!-MegaSpy22 Those must be the pants of the gods!-Digitalpython
I don't really want to tell the full story at the moment, but she passed away early Friday afternoon, thankfully after family was able to see her.
On Friday morning (after spending two nights with him) I left my friend R with his aunt, who was also staying at his house. Understandably I have not heard anything from him since then, but I'm trying to give them as much space as possible.
These past three days have taught me even more respect for people in the medical field even more than I already had. Not just because of their medical expertise, but because they actually have to deal with this kind of information overload s*** on such a regular basis.
Though I feel a lot better about it now (having talked to several friends who are all nurses or medical professionals in some capacity), I am still getting over, essentially, what a huge, gigantic liar I had to be these past couple of days before D's passing. The stress caused by knowing literally everything and being able to say nothing- not only to keep respect for the family's privacy, but also knowing that "knowing" information about our friend's condition would not help, affect, or change the situation in any sort of positive direction, is not a stress I would wish upon anyone.
A particularly close friend who works at a nearby hospital as a nurse told me, "Yes, it sucks. Sometimes you know everything. But you put it aside and you have to tell those parents or whoever is asking that you don't know, because the information should not be coming from you. And sometimes you lie for various reasons, but it's necessary."
She also went on to explain that the stress in this situation was elevated by the fact that I had such a personal stake in it, which I think I "knew" going into it but did not understand the magnitude of what was actually happening.
The mom and dad have asked me to help put together a slideshow of pictures for the funeral and memorial service because, again understandably, they don't really have the emotional energy to go through picture after picture of their daughter. I honestly don't really know if I have the emotional energy for it either, but I'm doing it anyway. Thankfully they don't need it done until next weekend.
I know that I'm going to be helping out with things like that for at least another week because the funeral and memorial services are planned for this upcoming weekend. There's a small, extremely selfish part of me that was hoping it would be anything but those days, because I was scheduled to teach workshops on Saturday and I could use the normality, but seeing as the retreat I was teaching at was being organized by many of D's close friends, I imagine that it may be canceled or moved.
I did get small pieces of normality yesterday though; I was in a wedding proposal flash mob at Seattle's famous Pike Place Market yesterday for a group of people that know nothing about what has happened this past week, except for my other two friends who happened to be in that group too, and I also got to see my sister perform in the ICCA Regional A cappella competition, where unfortunately her team did not place (but did extremely well.)
That's what's been happening with me. Some of my friends are still asking for advice in helping them with this loss and sometimes I find myself not knowing what the hell to say. And I know that I don't have to have all of the right answers, but I honestly wish sometimes I had better ones. This is more of a thing that we're all figuring out together, though. --- http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v129/ukealii50/kylo.jpg - Thanks uke! http://img193.imageshack.us/img193/829/07kyloforce.png - Thanks Diyosa!