A Bouquet in Place #FridayFictioneers

Photo Credit @Ted Strutz
Photo Credit @Ted Strutz

A Bouquet in Place
by Tracey Delaplain

I wrinkled my nose and let a faint grimace escape.
“It’s death,” said the astute nurse, “you never really get used to the smell.”
“But this patient is alive,” I replied.
“In name only, Doc. Her vessel is dying cell by cell,” she tapped her nose, “never lies.”
“Get well soon Gram,” read the typewritten note on the bouquet.
“Sad, dying alone with only a bouquet to mark her passing. I’ll hold space with her, but those have to go, can’t stand the stench of guilt. Flowers are a poor substitute for caring.”

Holding Space

I read a very interesting essay last year by Heather Plett about what it means to “hold space” with another person. Here is a brief explanation in her own words.

What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

Physicians are rarely in a position of “holding space”. We are trained to fix problems. When a patient is dying our instinct is to keep fixing them, sometimes beyond reason. I have learned over the years that sometimes it’s ok to just be with a dying patient. It’s a privilege that not many people experience. The concept of “holding space” is usually reserved for the living but sitting vigil at another’s death is in fact “holding space”.

For more sweet smelling 100 word stories visit Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for Friday Fictioneers.

39 thoughts on “A Bouquet in Place #FridayFictioneers

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  1. Beautifully sensitive offering this week Tracey. I loved the concept of ‘holding space’ but even more did I appreciate the ‘stench of guilt’. A cracker of a story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was absolutely perfect. I loathe the stench of flowers in a hospital room and I adore he concept of holding space. We held space for my father and less than two years later, for my husband. It was the least we could do.. Beautiful story, Tracey

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for pointing out the flaw in this piece. Of course the nurse should have considered that the patient may hear her. That leaves me wondering if either care giver really cared about the dying patient.


  3. I really like the concept of the holding space and, as you mentioned, it is a privilege to spend the final hours with someone. Flowers, I agree, aren’t very pretty when they smell of guilt. Great piece, Tracey.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Holding space is a great phrase, and concept. I like the two caregivers, flawed or not. In todays hospitals, too much is left to machines, too few people have too much work to do… someone finding the time and wanting to just be there during the last moments is a true gift.

    Liked by 1 person

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