Monday, March 4, 2013

Grief, Revisited

In my line of work, it's inevitable that there is illness, disease, and yes, even death.  There is hardly a day that goes by where I don't come in contact with this, where I don't play a minor role in all these sad stories.

How I'm affected by these stories vary. Most of the time, I'm learning to not be as affected. I'm learning to recognize the things I can change, the things I can't, the inevitable from the preventable. It's not easy, but an essential part to maintaining my sanity.

However, there are still events that knock me out of my comfort level, that rattle me to my core.  Things I see that leave me hollow, sad, and waking up from bad dreams in the middle of the night.

That's what this last week has been. There was one patient that I can't get out of my mind. A patient that I desperately wanted to save, a patient that I desperately wanted to return, whole and healed, to their family. But that was not the case. Yes, against all odds, we worked as a team and were able to get the patient out of the OR. But that's where the good news ended. The patient was too ill, too broken, and didn't survive the week.

I cried in the car on the way home.  I cried at home to Hubster.  I woke up from bad dreams crying.

I recognized that some of my grief stems from my inability to not project my own situation on what had happened.  What if it was my loved one?  How would I feel if I had to go home, and my own family member was suddenly not there? 

I met the family several times. I saw grief etched in every aspect of their expressions, their posture. Witnessing their grief, it felt that my own sadness was selfish. Despite all my attempts at empathy, how could I even image what they were going through?  How dare I even pretend that my tears compared in some way to theirs? 

I had thought I was past this, that I had built enough emotional distance from all the sad stories.  Despite how emotionally draining, how acutely horrific this last week has been, a small part of me is actually relieved to find that this is not the case.


  1. I'm sure it was really hard for you to go through that, emotionally, but on some level it must be kind of good to know that you haven't completely become hardened and detached from that sort of pain and sadness.

  2. Who says your can't grieve? You tried to save this person's life and it wasn't meant to be. You have feelings too, hon. It's normal. If you weren't upset, then you wouldn't be human.

  3. That has to be so hard, to be with the patients and watch them interact with their loved ones as they pass. (((HUGS!)))

  4. I can't imagine that ever getting easier. But just think of all the people you WILL save! And have already saved. So hard to not bring your work home with you and take every single thing to heart.

  5. One of the most healing things as we face grief is that others can grieve with us. If no one cried at loss, could relate to what was happening when we hurt, THAT would be hell. You know you face risk at getting stuck, grieving over everything you face and there are limits you have to keep re-visiting. But it ok to let the people you care for see that you grieve.They may even try to comfort you, that too heals them, as they see their loved one connected with you.. grief is not the enemy... I am sorry that you hurt and lost someone you knew was precious.