An Inside Perspective on End of Life and Vigil Sitting
From Aaron Drog, RN Case Manager at Transitions Care
Vigil sitting is the presence of being at the bedside of someone who is in their last hours of life. During this time, Transitions Nurses, Volunteers, and Social Workers support the patient’s mind, body, and soul. We make sure they are as comfortable as possible, at peace, and supported in any way we can help. Along with pain medication and symptom management, this process can include talking, praying, performing rituals, playing quiet music, fresh air, silence, anything that will help to calm or guide the patient in their transition.
Aaron Drog, Transitions Care Registered Nurse (RN), shares his story on his experiences working in end of life care and vigil sitting.
“Working for Transitions Care has been a huge blessing for me! Some people may find end of life care to be too emotional or even very draining. Others have said they find it to be too morbid. But I have come to view myself as something of an obstetric nurse; I feel I am helping people to be born into a new reality as they die. I feel like I’m helping our patients trust in God and find mercy at the hour of death. I’m able to ease their pain and anxiety, and let them know that they are not alone.
As an end of life care nurse, you’ll often find yourself wearing many different hats and fulfilling many different functions. One day, I found myself kneeling at the bedside of a gentleman who was referred to us. As soon as I walked in, I could tell that he was already in the throes of death. Once I understood the situation, I was able to contact his family, kneel by his bedside and hold his hand, encourage him to trust that there is something beyond this life, and give him peace. It is truly a gift.
And yet another day, I found myself advocating for a patient in an assisted nursing facility who was having trouble breathing. She was on the maximum amount of oxygen a person can be safely given, and I found through her chart that she had only been on one simple medication. Once I obtained the order for that medication, she was able to be without oxygen, breathing normally, and enjoying life for the next three months before she passed away.
From giving people hope, to comforting families as their loved one passes away, to ensuring that a patient has the most comfortable lifestyle possible, and advocating with other services to make sure their life is fuller and richer – I am constantly amazed at the fulfillment that not only I can give, but also that I can receive by taking care of those who are most in need.”