A Nurse Takes a Fall, and Loses More than Her Mobility

The Reflections essay in the July issue of AJN, “An Inconsolable Loss,” tells the story of a traumatic event that interrupts and forever changes a retired nursing professor’s relationship with her mother, “whose gentle touch and approving smile” she had always craved. Writes author Brenda Kelley Burke:

For a number of years, I’d made daily trips after work to a nursing home to visit my mother . . . .The roles of child and mother were now reversed because of her dementia. I felt acutely aware of the mother–child bond and how it transcends time and circumstance. How could I measure up to this wise and loving woman, who so many years ago would kiss my small feet before she put on my socks and whisper, ‘God, guide them to the safe places’?

But one bitterly cold and snowy night, writes Burke, “like the famous nursery rhyme character, I too had a great fall that left me broken.” Sometimes the seemingly fixed patterns of our lives depend on the most fragile of balances—one change can lead to many others, and suddenly nothing seems the same.

This dramatic and moving essay explores the themes of familial love, role reversal, vulnerability, self-reproach, and ultimately, acceptance of life’s one constant, which is change. “An Inconsolable Loss,” like all Reflections essays, is free.

(Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers for AJN. All rights reserved.)

Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

One Comment

  1. Lois Roelofs July 5, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    So sorry! A touching story. And to think of how all of our patients’ lives and relationships are altered by their illnesses too.

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