Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Compassion and Organ Donation: Nicole Hixson

I don’t know how people like Nicole do it.  
They show up when people’s lives are falling apart and emotions are thick. People are screaming and crying, pounding on the walls, and people like Nicole are able to calm the panic and begin the healing process. Nicole is an organ transplant coordinator who speaks to the family minutes after death because time is of the essence.
I can't imagine going up to a grieving family at this time and talking to them about removing some of their loved one's organs, even if it saves lives.

I think that each of us could be a healer for someone else’s grief or despair once in our lifetime. But to be willing to do this day in and out speaks of having an enormous amount of compassion. And to survive doing this year after year speaks of a solid belief in something much larger than grief, something that cannot be shaken by the presence of death, a vision larger than all the suffering that people go through that sees the uneven beauty and awe of life.

Yet even compassionate people burn out and need to step away for a time. They need to be reminded that most people are happy with life. And they need to be reminded that their work is not to get rid of suffering in the world, but to help the people who have been hurt make it through today. To these people, the help of people like Nicole makes a crucial difference.

People who work in trauma situations remind me of the people who paint the Golden Gate Bridge. When they reach the other side a year later, they come back and start again. It’s a never-ending job. Without the work of the compassionate ones, the bridgework that holds people’s lives together would fall apart.

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