Whilst training as a nurse, I was assigned three rotations of geriatrics; two male and one female. It was while on one of the male wards that this event happened. My night shift started at 9 pm and after the usual updates from the day staff, my colleague and I were left to care for the old gentlemen. We took a side of the ward each and walked to each patient ensuring they were comfortable, had drinks of one sort or another and took vitals.
One gentleman took my hand as I fluffed his pillows.
“Thank you so much for the daffodil.”
“Daffodil? I’m sorry, what daffodil.”
“It was so sweet of you.”
Thinking he was in a confused state, I just made sure he was comfortable and humored him, then continued with my tasks. My colleague and I administered medicines and settled the patients for the night, then turned most of the lights off. Our desk was situated at one end of the ward so we could hear if a patient called out and see all the beds. For several hours we took turns in attending to patients needs, writing out reports and taking vitals. A ward at night is not silent with snores, coughs and fidgeting but quieter than during the day. With experience you come to know which patients are the most frail and keep a special eye on them. Sometimes we sat with them and held their hands.
At around 3:30 am, the gentleman who had spoken to me, passed away. After the doctor had been, I attended to his body. After cleaning and wrapping him in a sheet, as is the custom, I left him for an hour and went to write my report.
Later with everything in place, I watched the day staff arrive. One nurse was carrying a bunch of daffodils – yes, I was very shocked. The reason not only because of what the old man had said but also the fact that it was the midst of winter, much too early for daffodils. I asked.
“Where did you get daffodils from?”
“They’re from the florist down the street. The blooms are forced in greenhouses. I couldn’t resist a piece of spring to cheer us up.”
“May I have one bloom?”
“OK but why?”
“I’ll tell you later.”
I gently placed the yellow flower between the old gentleman’s hands, just the way he had described. He had told me he had ‘seen’ this happen and knew he was going to pass away. It had given him peace to thank me for my kind thought. As to how he had ‘seen’ this event before it happened, I have no idea, but I did want to ensure it was done. He was at peace and that calmed me.
Have you experienced anything like this?
Other times my elderly patients were candid on when they would pass and were not afraid of it, just resigned and calm. Many told me they had ‘seen’ relatives or heard them say ‘come with me’ in dreams. I began to realize these occurrences were precursors and would sit with these patients, chatting about their lives and whom they had ‘seen’. All of them were happy to relate and were relieved they would meet their loved ones.