Grief, 2019

I thought I was ready for 2019. I was newly single and knew that living on my own was going to take some getting used to. I threw myself into smoothing out our new home, our first full year under our belt. Our staff grew and volunteers grew. It was great to have the buzz of activity around us.

Early in the year, our longtime friend, Glenne returned to the hospital for yet another procedure. I had first encountered Glen by phone in early 2017. He had called to explain that he was declining, had kidney failure, refusing dialysis, and would be going into hospice care. I explained our process and told him I would put him on our list and call when we had availability. We were still in our old building and stairs could sometimes be an issue, as well as shared rooms. I couldn’t use an empty bed in a room with a woman to house a man. Glen said he would call back and check in. He did, a lot. His last phone call to me took place while I was in the hospital. I had found out the day before that I have a heart condition and was being watched overnight.  He had called more than twice in a row, so I answered. He explained that he was sleeping under some bushes downtown and that he was scared. I told him to go straight to the house. I called Mark and asked him to please get a space ready for him. The next day we met in person. Do you ever meet people and feel like you’ve known them a long time? That’s how it was with Glen. He hadn’t been with us long when he decided he had a good life with us, one he wanted to continue. So, he began dialysis and doctors' appointments once again.  Glen also shared with me that he wanted to live the rest of his life as his true self, and that was as a woman. I was shocked to hear how supportive the VA hospital was! He had therapy and groups to assist with the transition and surgery. Glen spent a long while deciding on her new name. After much debate she chose “Glenne”.  There were some ups and downs. At one point, all Glennes items were boxed up at her request and I was asked to dispose of them. Thankfully I thought better of that and stored them. We had spent a lot of time building that wardrobe! Glenne began to suffer complications of diabetes and was spending more time being hospitalized. She went back and forth on whether she wanted to continue her journey. She loved Wendover and would regularly head there on the fun bus to play poker and meet for dinner with one of our longtime volunteers that lives there. One visit resulted in a heart attack at the poker table, a helicopter ride to the hospital in Salt Lake and a cab home because she didn't want to be admitted and didn't want us to find out. She was so stubborn and could be so grumpy. But she had a soft side and I adored her. She left us in February last year and I miss her constantly, especially her laugh.

The summer was cruel. In August my neighbor, close friend and coworker Jill lost her father Dave. He was one of the funniest, kindest and most entertaining men I have met. I was grateful to get to know him. I have lots of experience grieving alongside our resident's families and plenty of experience grieving myself but watching someone I love suffer a sudden loss was something that I felt completely unprepared for and inadequate. Just a couple of weeks following this my kids found out their dad had terminal stomach cancer and was given 6 months to live. He passed in October of that year. When my mom came to help us through that first week, she told me my sister had been diagnosed with cancer just the day before. I am thankful that she is doing well.

When I returned to work, I was surrounded by love. Both by our staff and by our residents. I worried about my ability to be fully present for our residents. With the help of some of our amazing chaplains and grief counselors, I managed through. I came out of this experience feeling even more equipped to stand by the side of those suffering through these experiences.

I ended our first full year in our new building feeling good about all that we had accomplished. Things were running smoothly; our neighbors had rallied around us and were volunteering and supporting us. We were serving so many people that were in desperate need of some respite and care. Our staff was growing and beginning to mesh. We looked forward to all that 2020 could bring!

Read Glenne's obituary here.

Please take a moment to hep The INN Between give someone a safe and supportive haven in their final days so that, like Glenne, they can leave this earth knowing their life mattered and that they deserve dignity and to be remembered. Donate today to our 5th Anniversary Campaign.

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More in this category: « Moving Day, 2018

2 comments

  • Comment Link Heidi November 25, 2020 posted by Heidi

    I am so sorry for the river of sadness that came into your life Matilda. May you be safe. May you feel loved. May you have strength and health to carry on your calling. Love, Heidi Franke RN

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