Being a caregiver is tough. But it is a labor of love. To help ease the stress, I often go to Pinterest for kind words of inspiration. When my mother was in rehab a couple of months ago, I found this:
But one of the comments I found underneath this pin that day was extremely offensive to me. (Names of the users and the Avatar of the offending one have been redacted.) Yep, that one. “Only God heals, not nurses.”
When you’re the caregiver of someone who has had a medical emergency, you’re spending your days with little sleep, you’re filtering messages all over the place and you are stressing out because no one can help in the way you need it.
When this happens, a comment like that is not comforting. Especially to someone like me. I’ve had to help dress my mother to get into the ambulance, had to call 911 because my mother was unable to talk – and am just about on a first-name basis with the EMTs in our city.
I have seen the work of nurses, and they do exactly that: Heal. As soon as I read that message, I came back with some very reserved words for this Pinterest user:
I closed that book, and just wrote her off as someone who doesn’t understand how things work in the world. The book was reopened today when I read this amazing comment from another stranger:
The above comment made my day.
Since it made me so happy, I decided to screenshot the entire conversation and post it to my Facebook timeline on the morning of Thursday, May 22.
Not only did the likes come pouring in from my friends – but it also brought in some very good dialogue and allowed me to do some processing, which I ended up saving for this site, rather than leaving really long comments for my friends.
When writing this post the night of May 22, I put out a call to action to my friends who work in nursing, to send me photos of themselves in their scrubs in response to this statement. The nurses you see in this post come from all over the United States.
With that, here’s my story:
I’m an atheist/humanist/secularist/etc (I find comfort in science, observation and logic), but I will defend those of faith to the end.
I have seen the work the pastors in my family do and it truly is amazing. I am comfortable with the idea of being good without God, and I make no efforts to proselytize.
Now, we are part of a local Catholic Hospital network, and the nurses have the option to have their hands blessed when they start working there.
Although I do not share its core beliefs, I recognize the Catholic Church for taking the initiative to start building hospitals where there were none. I also recognize them for making it a mission to heal, and for taking part in and embracing many scientific and medical advancements we have made.
I also understand why they do the optional blessing of the hands.
To me, that says that, in alignment with their beliefs, God is delegating the healing to the nurses and that they are to do work for God.
If “only God heals,” I would never have had to call an ambulance for my Mom.
Healing takes many forms, depending on the person. Skilled care, medication, treatment, therapy, spiritual or non-spiritual fulfillment, the love of friends, family, pets.
None of these are puppets. They all have to work in some way or another.
Although I am a humanist who respects those of faith, I also cannot stand by and let a person of faith be so condescending and dismissive of the work of those who live by caring for others.
There was absolutely no reason for that comment other than to be self-righteous.
The work of nurses, doctors, techs, caregivers, hospice, nutrition
staff, therapists, chaplains, social workers and even cleaning services in medical facilities have some of the toughest and often most thankless jobs out there.
I’ve seen them heal. They do amazing things. And they are an integral part of my work as a caregiver.
Not all nurses are persons of faith, nor do they have to be.
I know nurses who are Catholic, Protestant, Non-Denominational, Pagan, Atheist, Agnostic. No one of them works harder than anyone else.
So, when someone says that nurses don’t heal, I have to respectfully disagree.
We are all born with free will, and we are all part of healing our world.