The Pain of Nursing Home Placement

Maybe it’s shame

Maybe it’s fear

Maybe it’s acknowledgement

That the end is near.


Maybe it’s the halls

The impersonal room

That looks and feels

Like a living tomb.


Maybe it’s the money

$500 a day

Eating retirement

And inheritance away.


Maybe it’s the crowd

Of lonely souls

Who have death

As their only goal.


Maybe it’s hurt

And maybe it’s the pain

That she doesn’t even

Remember your name.


Maybe it’s the smell

Of those dying

That permeates the rooms

Of those left lying


In beds so cold

While TVs fill

The hours and minutes

They’re trying to kill.


Maybe it’s the inadequacy

You feel inside

That she cared for you

And now you can’t provide


She birthed you

And nursed you

But you can’t reciprocate

And see this through.


You tell yourself

“The staff is great”

And it’s true

There’s no debate.


“This is for the best”

You have to say

Again it’s true

But it feels so grey.


It’s hard and painful

And pricks the guilt syndrome

When you put a loved one

In a nursing home.

The unreasonable love of a mother

The doctor told her

“This pregnancy can kill you.

Your body likely can’t carry to term.”


“Nobody knows you’re carrying

There will be no shame

No guilt if you terminate.”


“Even if people knew

They would understand . . .

Think about your husband

Your parents

Your family and

Your friends.”


She knew,

of course she knew

Everyone knew

She wouldn’t, couldn’t conceive

This wasn’t suppose to happen

This wasn’t planned.

Her disease, her body

Couldn’t take a pregnancy.

“Talk it over” the doctor said.

“This isn’t an easy decision”

He said.


But in her heart

She made up her mind.

She would risk her life

For the slim chance of birth.

I imagine it wasn’t popular

there were empty platitudes

I imagine words were spoken

Behind her back and

To her face.


We can’t always explain love

Love doesn’t always listen to sense.

Today, love laid in her casket

Today, love packed the church

Today, love poured out in tears

Today, a one year old

stole a last look

At the one who gave her life

The one who gave her love.

Because the unreasonable love of mothers

Is the meaning of history

Where were you when you heard the news?


Carlee Soto learning that her sister had died in the Sandy Hook School Shootings

Were you driving?

Cell phone rings

Kids in tow

Tears flowing

“Mom, what’s wrong?”

Did you pull over?

Did you tell them?

Or did you not?

“Nothing, honey.

Moms just crying.”


“Mom-mom just called.

Pop-Pop died.”


Were you at work?

“This isn’t good.

You thought to yourself

“Dad never calls me at work.”

It goes to voicemail.

“Call me ASAP”

Dad says.

Voice shaking.

You go to the bathroom

Return the call

Lock the doors.

“It’s your mom . . . .”


Was it in on your couch?

Searching your Facebook newsfeed

You see it.

“It’s a joke”

She can’t be . . .

You text your best friend

No response

It’s not a joke.

Oh, God. Oh, God.


Was it late at night?

2:00 am

Someone knocks on the door

The dog starts barking.

Everybody’s home.

So you thought.

“Are you the father of . . .”

“Yes”, you tell the officer.

“I regret to inform you . . .”


Perhaps you were there

The moment

The hysteria

When eyes lost life

You will never forget

That time, place

Where color faded to gray

When clarity became confusion

When life ended suddenly

And a part of you with it.

When Ghosts Beckon Us to Join

The death was sudden

Tragic and violent

The metal tore against his flesh

Before it threw him.

“I cant! I CAN’T!!!” you yell

When they asked you to see

To identify

The one who had just hugged you

When he walked out the door for work.


Your cell rings

You think it’s him.

You prepare a table for two.

His ghost still lives with you.

His birthday ready with his favorite dish.

The news, the news, the news

You call him to talk it through

But he’s not there

So you stare

At his ghost

With tears floating down.


Years later

His clothes still folded

His things still standing

His ghost still lives.

You’ve made peace

And you talk about your complicated grief

Tell him about this and that

How you miss him

And wish him back.


“I’ve moved on” you say

But you can’t and you won’t.

Decades fly by.

You still wait for him at the door.

A haunted life

Of tears and strife

Living with his ghost

That beckons you to join.

Death Positive

The metanarrative that we’ve been fed

Is that it’s always bad when someone’s dead

That death is public enemy number one

And that there’s nothing good when life is done.


It’s true that death hurts me and you

And it’s true that death can be tragic too

It’s true that grief will never leave

And it’s never good to be bereaved.


But the idea that death is all bad is a lie

It’s hard to see but let me help you try;

When your eyes adjust at night you can find

That this is the time for the stars to shine.


We’re used to the day so it’s hard to see

But death’ darkness has its own kind of beauty

It’s not glamorous and it’s certainly not glorious

But caring for our dead is never ever worthless.


For in the dead we see our future and our past

We see very clearly that some things don’t last

It helps us remember what’s valuable and real

It helps us remember that love is our ideal.


Death is the friendly reminder that life is short

And it reminds us to only pursue things of import

And when our eyes see our own setting sun

If we lived with death in mind, we’ll hear “well done”

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