When a patient dies, it is good for us to mourn.

Of course, we physicians, nurses and paramedics are removed from the suffering.  It is not, usually, our family or friend.  But it is someone with whom we had relationship, however brief.

The Bible calls us to ‘mourn with those who mourn.’  I feel that right now, knowing that a patient died.  I feel a dim, but visceral echo of the sorrow of that family.  I feel a sense of the loss.  I feel an emptiness where there was a fullness.  A cavity in the universe.

When I pray for them, I feel the pain acutely; but at least, in praying, I feel as if I’m accomplishing something.  I’m loving, by reflection through God Almighty, the ones who feel the loss far more powerfully than I.  I have found myself praying many prayers, asking God to shower mercy and peace on the family of this lost one.

All of you, who provide care to the sick, learn to mourn.  Learn to cry.  Learn to feel the pain of loss and not confuse it with guilt.  Humanity is our job, healing our gift, and sorrow the toll we pay.

So I am mourning.  And it makes me more human, not less; stronger, not weaker.  Sadder but more loving.

In the words of the ancients:

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

Pray for the family of my patient, if you will.

I have not stopped.


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