I am a nurse and have a regional corporate position for a healthcare company. My role is to help cultivate the skills of our nurses with the goal of providing the highest level of care. I love what I do. My job affords me the ability to meet many people and from time to time they continue to contact me after they leave the company. Some are just keeping in touch while others still view me as a consultant/advisor.
Kathy is one such person, she left our company over 18 months ago but will text asking for advice or guidance. I’m always happy to assist her despite her working for a competitor. I know my assistance will ultimately impact patient outcomes and that is why I became a nurse.
She will ask a work related question(s) peppered with pleasantries “how are the kids”, “how was your vacation”?
I always respond and inquire about her family as well. I would not say we are close or even friends but I enjoy what we have, it’s easy, uncomplicated.
Recently she texted and after an exchange of work concerns the usual pleasantries ensued and then bam
the conversation turned …. her husband Mark died from leukemia.
I am stunned and feel helpless. Almost 2 months have passed since his death but the news is new to me.
I’m trying to process the information.
I’m sure it still feels new to her, it’s only been 2 months for a wife of 20+ years.
The easy uncomplicated “relationship” is suddenly anything but that.
I of course text her back and tell her how sorry I am to hear this news but feel this isn’t enough…
What are the guidelines? Do I call despite her choosing to text??
Texting, while it is something most people do, it is now causing me to feel unsure about what to do.
As a nurse a personal connection has always been important to me. Patients do better when this exists, they listen when being taught on how to care for themselves and prevent future hospitalization, critically ill and dying patients can feel this as a nurse tries to make every hour the best it can be and passing as gentle as possible because everyone deserves that. Kathy now feels like a patient to me, someone who could benefit from help and support.
I am unable to concentrate on anything else since hearing the news, texting is not how I feel death should be handled.
I begin to solicit advice; I want to know is it too late to send flowers even though I just found out?
Do I call and possibly intrude ? Do I send a card and forgo the flowers?
Why don’t I know what to do? I realize it’s because communicating solely via texting has created an impersonal relationship. While we are exchanging thoughts and ideas, feelings cannot be conveyed this way.
When speaking to someone they can hear the intonation of your voice, the listener can feel what you are saying. Texting does not allow this. I am that cheesy person who includes ❤️❤️❤️ and ❌⭕️❌⭕️ to show love, hugs and kisses while texting but wouldn’t that person rather hear those words?
While we have become so advanced we have removed the human component for basic communication. Life is so busy, moving at lightning speed, have we become so task oriented we need to type an answer rather than speak to each other?
Don’t get me wrong I welcome the ability to answer a quick question via email/text.
It’s the friendly banter and “catching up” via text that has me pondering the need to make changes.. to talk not text. I don’t want to lose the human component, the personal connections that bring me happiness, that is the core of who I am. That is why God lead me into nursing.
I hope those in my life will find this”new” way of communicating acceptable.
As for Kathy … I prayed over it and of course the answer was obvious…I opted to call her… she didn’t answer so I left a voicemail.