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

  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. Dear Tracey,

    Sandra took the words right out from under my fingers. Stench of guilt is a great descriptive and says so much. Applause.



    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Sandra, all the way around. Thanks for enlightening us about holding space.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 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

  5. I hope that the dying patient could not hear the conversation, and that some held space for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said. Years of working in long term care with terminally ill have given me respect for ‘holding space’ and yes, there is a ‘stench of guilt’ associated with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a sad story. Flowers are indeed a poor substitute for caring.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The best stories come from our own heart and experiences. Well said.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “Holding space” is a great concept. Wonder if I can do it…

    This was a sad and informative story this week. Nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lovely story! I love the concept of holding space. So often we vent to our friends, not wanting to be “fixed” but just heard. All the more important at end of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. this is one of your best. hold space – what a nice concept. i’ll remember that.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Fascinating piece, especially for all of us who are a certain age and have experienced death in family members, friends, and well-known personalities of our generation. You are very unusual and sensitive doctor from my experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A very thoughtful piece,Tracey. I suppose you have smelled your share of flowers stenched with guilt. The loneliness here is palpable.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. 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

  15. What a wonderfully written piece. The message is prominent too. I enjoyed reading this.


  16. 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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