a month later, the emotional scar left after a client’s death still feels fresh

It’s been a minute since I last wrote. I have a lot of thoughts and emotions to put down so here go my typing fingers.

The saying is that time heals all wounds. It makes a lot of sense to me, and I want to believe in it. Over time I’ve come to acceptance with so many things that in the past felt so hard and unbearable. But still… It’s been about a month since a tenant on my caseload – someone I’ve felt responsible to as a social worker – passed away in a local hospital due to a terminal illness. I feel like time has only made my emotional scars larger. I’m all smiles and laughs on the outside, but sometimes, deep within me, I carry this darkness everywhere I go. The person is no longer here and I feel like I owe it to her to keep her in my mind.

My workplace did a really beautiful job facilitating a memorial. The person’s daughters and grandchildren came. Other tenants had some things to say and share. The program director opened with remarks and I gave like a speech afterwards. I think I was a bit awkward in delivering a eulogy. I didn’t prepare a script but I just said what I thought was appropriate for the occasion. It wasn’t my role then to be this rousing orator, but to help bring people together, to point out that this person’s life and death had an impact here in this place, and in our hearts.

My work in regards to this deceased tenant is not yet quite over. The landlord partnered with my agency needs the person’s death certificate and some documents filled out and signed by a representing family member. I’ve been staying in contact with the family member, hoping to provide additional support, but it also feels awkward because I don’t want to come off as pressuring for these documents when they got so many other things to deal with. The family is struggling to afford related costs such as cremation. I really feel for them.

I wonder how different it’d be for me if this was a tenant on a different social worker’s caseload… There’s something about being someone’s social worker- of being that person’s confidant and a major part of  – if not the – person’s support system. To have that person die on you and then having to continue living on and working… I suppose it’s something we in this profession ultimately get used to, but damn, it’s hard to really put into words and describe all the complex emotions that occur within me as a result.

I’ve been holding up pretty well for the most part though. Just this week, a new social worker was hired and I’m glad that my work burden is lessening and becoming to be within more normally accepted range. The person’s a bit shy, but I can see that she is highly competent and professional so I’m excited to witness the fulfillment of such great potential.

I’m grateful for my coworkers and my direct supervisor. It’s so pleasant to work with them, even as I can come off as awkward and such a workaholic. It’s such a joy, joking with them and groaning about little workplace woes such as the printer not working properly.

At home, I’ve been playing a lot of Nier: Automata, which is a hack-and-slash action rpg exploring the theme of existentialism and nihilism in a future world where androids are at a never-ending war against machine life-forms created by aliens. Given the kind of stuff I’ve been dealing at work, this has been a perfect kind of game for me to unwind to. Sometimes I’m screaming at the enemies on my screen, like how a Saiyan warrior screams when undergoing a Supersaiyan transformation for the first time. That feels really good. It also may explain why I live alone in a studio unit.

Anywho, I’m not quite sure how much longer I’ll be feeling for the person I was a social worker to. Maybe it’ll be forever. Maybe over time, as I witness more and more lifes and deaths doing this work, I’ll be carrying more and more emotional scars indefinitely always within. Maybe time ultimately heals even these kinds of wounds. In any case, as I carry along, I’m a mix of being both saddened and also joyous that I got to and get to continue to do the work that I do.

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