Reflections from the Beach in Thailand

Reflections from the Beach in Thailand

Life & Death Matters Post

Happy New Year to friends and colleagues!

Ted and I are in Thailand visiting his brother, sister in law and their granddaughter. We had a week with Art and Aree, enjoying their farming community about five hours north of Bangkok. After seeing and being so impressed with their farming, we left for a small island, south east of Bangkok, near the Cambodian border.

reflections from the beach in thailand

Ko Kut (also spelt Ko Kood)  was a wonderful place to regroup and relax. The island has a dozen or so resorts, a few small restaurants, and some dive shops. Approximately 5,000 residents live on the island.

We swam, lay on the beach, lay under palm trees, hiked to a waterfall and swam some more.

reflections from the beach in thailand

Ted’s brother and family joined us for a final few days of play. We loved our time with them. Wonderful to see the two brothers talking and joking together. Wonderful to be with Aree and her granddaughter Calami and explore and swim together.

We are now headed to Cambodia for the last week of the adventure. Will visit the ancient Angkor Wat temple and explore that area.

It is interesting to me that, after a few weeks of relaxing, I had two very strong dreams about people dying. One was a person who is very dear to me, the other was a dream of a professional experience registering a young woman for hospice.

I am usually a very lively dreamer. I dream nightly. I dream many times a night. Ted teases me sometimes and says, “No wonder you are tired, you have travelled the world in your dreams!” My dreams are not prophetic. Some of my dreams are very vivid. I dream about many things. Sometimes I dream of death… but not usually twice in a short time.

Over the years I have talked, read about, heard about, and experienced “SURVIVOR GUILT” – the guilt that people feel when they are alive, and their loved ones, or the ones they care for, are dying.  Well, I am not burdened this holiday with “Survivor Guilt”, but have found myself  burdened with “Holiday Guilt”.

“Holiday Guilt” – the acute awareness that we are on a lovely long sandy beach and that, no matter how deserving we are of this holiday, there are incredible amazing wonderful hard-working caregivers: Personal Support Workers, Health Care Assistants, Continuing Care Assistants who are working their butts off, and who are not here on their holidays!

On a rationale level I know that we have worked soooo hard. The new book and resources have taken so much time and energy and focus. I have felt glued to a desk and a pen for the last few years. I know that when we booked this long awaited for holiday it felt perfect and so deserved. So why, when I thought about writing about the holiday on Facebook or on a blog, did I feel so guilty? Somehow, it just felt wrong that we are here, and the amazing caregivers are not.

I will consider this as we go into our last week of holidays.

We are thankful for Kim who is watching over the office while we are gone.  As this year comes to a close, in just an hour here in Thailand, I wish you well. I give thanks for the opportunity to be a hospice palliative care nurse/educator. I give thanks for the incredible people who teach me, the dying, the caregivers, educators, and colleagues. Happy 2015… may we learn and grow together!

Warm regards from  Thailand,





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Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

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