Earlier this fall I was given the profound privilege of witnessing the recovery of organs from a woman whose wish it was that in her death others would be given the gift of life. As a Safety, Health and Wellness Professional my role was to look for opportunities to ensure the health and safety of the staff involved. Although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, the experience was so much more than a technical exercise. The procedure started with a moment of silence to honour the profound gift that was being given. In that moment I found myself feeling connected with a team of individuals whom I had just met. Five hours later as I stood beside the surgeon who in his hands held a human heart I felt something move within me that I had forgotten was there – an awakening to a deeper realization of just how extraordinary the work is that goes on behind closed doors in our hospitals. The following day I felt quite emotional, and in the days that followed something shifted in me as I began to feel a deeper sense of gratitude for all healthcare professionals – doctors, nurses and all those who share their skills and determination, simply for our well-being.
With the recent events in France and other human tragedies occurring around our world today, it’s so easy to become disillusioned, fearful and angry. I’ve been struggling with my own emotions and fears this past week. As I reflect on recent events and recall my own experience in the OR, I realize that there are so many more helping hands than harming ones – police officers and paramedics who arrive on dangerous and chaotic scenes to provide protection, security and emergency medical care; doctors, nurses and first aiders working hard to save lives, reduce suffering and providing healing; clean-up crews who come in afterwards to do the unenviable task of removing the signs of trauma and horror; mental health professionals who help heal the emotional impact of witnessing the unthinkable; OT/PTs who help the injured restore their strength and mobility; Armed Forces and Health, Safety and Security professionals who work around the clock to look out for our safety and security; ordinary citizens who hold the hands of the injured and dying and who open their doors to those who need of a comforting place to go, and all of us who pause, each in our own way, to show we care. There are so many, many more helping hands than harming ones – hands who are rich in diversity yet common in intent – working often unseen to offer their skills, compassion, knowledge and determination for our safety, security and well-being, often at great personal sacrifice. And with deep gratitude that realization gives me hope.