A few weeks have passed, so I can now relate how I found out that a least one Private Hospital in Sydney doesn’t have a Mortuary.
Not so long before, in response to a series of events in her life, I’d given my friend a copy of a book – If I were God, I’d end all the pain. I was hoping that this would help her better understand why we kept praying through all the things that had been happening.
My friend was this night at the hospital, at her father’s bedside: he was in the advanced stages of cancer. Wanting to do something to help, we figured out what food the family members could eat, and arrived at the tail-end of visiting hours with pizza and chinese food.
Rather than staying in what was becoming a crowded hospital room, we headed down to one of the TV rooms, where there was more space to eat.
What do you say to someone in that situation? Not much, really: you make small talk, try and make them laugh and think about happier times. You make sure that they’re eating, and well looked after, and by being nearby, hope to have a positive impact.
We’d been there perhaps an hour when her brother called her back to her dad’s room.
What do you do say to your friend? Do you remain silent – or risk saying the wrong thing?
You do what you can to bring comfort, whatever that looks like. You make some mistakes, and try to help the family members through it as best you can.
Less than an hour later – now after 9pm on a Sunday night – we learned that the hospital had no mortuary, and as such they would need to organise a funeral director immediately. Surely when a hospital admits someone who is so ill, there can be some kind of forewarning? How often are nurses stuck explaining this to grieving relatives?
I haven’t had much experience with cancer, except in putting my foot in my mouth. I learned more about Mike at his funeral than I’d known from the brief times I’ve spent with him – and I only met him while he was sick.
My favourite memory of the few that I have? Having learned of my interest in digital cameras, he was showing off his camera to me. Less than a week after that Sunday night, I learned that the kind of enthusiasm he brought to showing me his camera was the kind of passion that he brought to much of his life. It was good to know him for the time that I did.