My mother was a patient in the ICU. When she died her last hours were made very peaceful thanks to the caring and kind support of our two nurses, Derek Belt and Thomas Gruis.
When admitted, Mom needed to be on a BiPap machine to support her breathing. Derek was very protective of mom and up front about supporting her choice to say yes or no to any treatment. All of the nurses were caring and compassionate, but Derek was "our" nurse and truly treated Mom as if she was his mother.
I spent the night with Mom since she was not terribly lucid, and often had a hard time making herself understood. Dad needed a break and my brother was not due up to take his shift until the following day. Derek checked on us often and before the end of his shift, and made sure to pass along important information about mom to the next shift.
When Dad came back in the afternoon, I went home to get some sleep before work. I was not home more than half an hour when the phone rang. It was my dad, telling me that Derek wanted to talk to me. Mom had decided to refuse the BiPap and Derek was making sure I knew he would respect her wishes. I told him I was right there with him as I knew she would haunt me to the day I joined her if I fought her on that wish.
My brother arrived shortly after the BiPap came off. Mom drifted off to sleep knowing her family was there with her and would stay there til the end. Before the end of his shift, Derek filled Thomas in on the family arrangements, what we had agreed to and what Mom wanted. Thomas stayed in contact with us throughout the night, keeping an eye on Mom's vitals and ensuring that she was in no pain.
The next day mom made her decision to leave this world when we were all away from her bedside. I like to think she waited for us to miss that moment. Derek gave me the biggest strongest hug when she was gone and that sustained me until my husband could get back.
Without Derek and Thomas, this process could have been so much more traumatic. Instead, the family was able to spend time laughing and crying, telling stories and taking care of each other. Someone was always holding Mom's hand, telling her it was ok, we would be ok. This was a good death. Thank you, gentlemen, for your part in it.