Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lingering thoughts

Thinking through this day.

A. (another coworker of mine whom I have referenced in this blog), who is alone in the US, with 7 kids and his wife in distant Ethiopia, who infamously works 100 hours a week in 2 jobs, started crying in the break room today. Last week, his friend had died in a car accident unexpectedly, and I think E.G's death today hit him in the way that sometimes deaths around you make you wonder about your own life and its significance.

S., another coworker whom I also respect hella, was being all cynical about it.
"You are sad cos she wasn't a maxi lift," she said half-jokingly. "She went because this was the reason why she came."
Because EG was able to stand, she didnt require the laborious maxi lift everytime we needed to toilet her.

I know S. wasnt completely serious. I know that a part of it is to think of our residents in this way of, how much work do they require from us, because it's the easier way to think about being surrounded by people who are dying, and us needing to be detached.

But it also struck me that it was an objectifying way of thinking about our residents. I have thought of our residents like this too. But in grieving for this person who just passed, so much came out in how we process death, process our work and our emotions on a daily basis.

When the morgue came to take her body, many of us lined up to sing "Amazing Grace." It's my workplace's standard farewell practice.

But except for me, none of the people sending her away were CNAs. They were all office administrators who had very clearly been called out to stand in procession. My other coworkers were busy with their work, not having been told of this procession, this farewell.

It is so ironic. That us, who felt the closest to this person because we had toiletted her, bathed her, fed her, in the intimate ways one can support another living being, were, whether intentionally or not, excluded form her farewell and instead, those administrators, who had devalued this person's life by cutting our labor, dismissing our work, hurrying us, stood today to bid farewell.

I know this is not very articulate. Maybe at another time I can express this sentiment better. But I felt sad and trapped. That even in death, our work goes unacknowledged, our emotions, unrecognized and undervalued, struggling to compete with objectification.

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