Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Let me be your punching bag

Let's say there was a family. Their child has brain cancer that has metastasized. Instead of accepting that the disease has progressed, they look for someone, anyone to blame. They ooze anger. The doctor didn't pay attention to the symptoms. Their appointments weren't booked soon enough. Their insurance won't cover certain procedures. And you can understand. Because in this instance, we might be looking at controlling, not curing, the disease. So when the parents yell, you get it. This is a scary place. Maybe there will be a way to hold the cancer off a little while longer. Maybe you won't have to discuss palliative care or hospice with this family that wants to hold on to their child. But maybe you will. Even though your background prepares you for these conversations on an intellectual level, you will likely never be prepared on an emotional level.

How do you comfort a family that may lose their child? You listen. You let them express their anger. Their fear. The unfathomable grief. You don't defend anyone's actions or delays or the injustices of life. You apologize when you can. You advocate when you can. You listen. You accept. You are the middleman. You are the punching bag.

When they have vented, when they are spent, they will look at you and say thank you for listening. And maybe apologize for some of their words. They don't need to apologize. You'll look at them with compassion and simply say, "that's what I'm here for."

1 comment:

karen gerstenberger said...

They will be blessed by your presence if this is how you are with them. I am thankful that you were called to this place.