Months To Years Summer 2018 MTY_Summer2018_v7 - Page 44

Photo by Renusha Indralingam To Stake a Claim to Grief By Renusha Indralingam Note: Initials, names, and some identifying details have I was a recent college graduate, working on the long- been changed to protect patient identity. term-care unit in this small hospital 3,000 miles away from home. I was tasked with providing activities and “CM passed away this morning,” the brief, curt email read. social support for the 12 residents on the unit floor. I was The words made no sense. I re-read the initials, thinking basically there to be a friend, learning each resident’s maybe I confused residents with this alphabet-soup likes and dislikes, creating tailor-made games or outings method of protecting patient identities and information. that could improve their quality of life and maintain their No, CM was Cliff. There was no other patient with those current levels of cognition and sensory perception. Besides initials. At first, I felt nothing but disbelief. The hospital had being nervous about meeting such high expectations, I to be misinformed. Cliff had to be fine; he was scheduled was anxious about whether I would even be accepted by to return to the long-term-care unit in two weeks. His bed the residents. On my first day, I was relieved when I met was made up for him; the Christmas lights were still twirled Cliff. across the walls of his room. 44