“I am always sad this time of year. I miss my son.” Her voice wavered a bit as she tried to speak around the lump forming in her throat. 

“I am sorry,” I said quietly, grabbing the box of tissues for her.

“He’s been gone for four years now and I still cannot shake this sadness at the holidays.” Tears formed and overflowed. She dabbed at them. I already know that she is in counseling, that she does not want to discuss meds, that she is not a danger to herself.

“I am not sure you will ever get over it, you know. Not completely.” She nodded understanding.

My heart aches for her. A pain that threatens to swallow me up if I let it. 

I stand.

Part of me wants to stay. I want to talk to her about her son. What was he like? What does she miss about him the most? But I can’t. My other three rooms are full and I am running 20 minutes behind. 

My mind races ahead to what lies in the next exam room…

So instead I give her hand a squeeze and when that just does not feel adequate, I give her a good, strong hug. 

“Rosie will be in shortly to take you to the lab for the blood draw. I’ll see you back again in three months.”

And I walk away…


85 thoughts on “Distance

  1. You acknowledged her, her loss and her pain. You provided human touch. I’m guessing that she wasn’t expecting or wanting any more. Because you both know that you could neither erase her pain nor bring back her son. But you understood. And that had to be sufficient for both of you.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The thing that I don’t understand, having dealt with a great loss this year and having my first Christmas without her, (a time we loved and had a great deal of fun together during) is how people let it ruin the holidays for them. Even if I lost her this time of year, I don’t think I would do anything but try and focus on the happy memories we had together at this time. Come July, I will acknowledge it, and miss her, but I won’t let it kill Summer for me. I guess everyone grieves in their own way.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I had to do that many times as a counselor, as the kids I worked with aged out of the program. I wanted to stay with them until it was their choice to skip away, happy and healthy. But there were always new kids waiting who needed my care. I could only hope that someone else stood a few feet down the path, ready to take their hands for the next part of their journey. It does take a village 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hugs to you. Hugs are powerful and I’m sure yours gave as much comfort as she needed!
    FYI, Sometimes, a conversation with office staff to reduce the number of visits you take, can help how you may feel if you REALLY feel your hug didn’t do it’s normal magic — the way you want to make those you are there to heal.

    Sometimes, fighting for your true talents and potentials as a healer just needs one conversation with someone who understands you. Thank you for sharing your inner battle as a expert healer in our midst. Thank you for doing what you do and the hugs you share with those who need them. Love 2 you and your family for holidays

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Don’t underestimate the power of the hug. Every year at my physical, my amazing doctor takes me into his office, says a prayer for all that is going on in my life and gives me a huge hug. I know he is busy and that time that he takes to do that means the world to me. Comfort need not take a long time, it just needs to be genuine. Great post as always!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Doctors usually leave me wondering what they are really thinking, but given the nature of the doctor/patient relationship, sympathy is not the first thing on my list. I am there for professional assessment and advice so I can make responsible medical decisions myself. You seem to be the kind of doctor I would want though, one who considers the whole patient and treats him as he would want to be treated. Not an easy thing, obviously. Good for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. When I first visited my new GP a few months ago, following my son’s death from testicular cancer, I was quite sad and tearful.
    Having had our consultation, (my husband was with me), we got up to leave the room, and the GP silently hugged both of us.
    I knew he was extremely busy, by the number of people in the waiting room, and yet he still gave us his time, to listen and to console.
    It meant so much.
    Hugs to you x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. … because you know she needs to talk. She needs someone to listen to her give voice to her memories 😦

    VD – I’m starting to appreciate why my own doctor always looks like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders … in spite of what her gentle smile might imply.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. As science student and hopeful future health care professional, I often wonder how life is like from the perspective of the professionals… and your blog has given me a deeper understanding. Reading your posts, I have so much more respect for healthcare workers like you. It takes strength to be compassionate towards each individual patient you meet, yet understand that as much as you want to listen to them and be there for them, you have others to attend to and other responsibilities that demand your time. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences with the world. They go to show that there really is a human heart behind the white coat.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing this Doc. I think we all tend to forget that there is always someone else waiting. And you do what you can do, even more than what you ‘have’ to do. And yet it still doesn’t feel like enough. That’s important for us all to remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. How sad that the practice of medicine has devolved to this – where the caring MD can’t spend the time needed and wanted with a patient because of being overloaded with patients. Retirement is the answer! My husband works on contract with a rural practice and gets to spend as much time as he feels is needed with each patient. He loves it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think a hug from a doctor means a lot, since in my experience I don’t recall ever getting one. But then I never lost a child of my own which is a horrible thought. I can’t imagine anything worse. So changing the subject so as not to think about it more, that photo is perfect for this story.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Being a doctor this time of year must be tough. You have a front row seat to the most vulnerable aspects of people. I wonder if you see more of this in December because people are seeking assurance in the solid competency a doctor represents?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Now being full time employed I spend much time with guests. I enjoy the small talk. Sometimes though the small talk becomes too personal and I have to excuse myself.

    I excuse myself, put my mask back on and run around again…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: My Article Read (12-22-2015) | My Daily Musing

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