The last three weeks have been a crazy blur of sadness. In the mist of one the busiest delivery months of the year, it seems that a daily dose of bad news has surrounded me. Three close friends have received devastating news. My heart breaks for each of them, as I search for tangible ways to attempt to help. Sprinkled in between the joyous deliveries and the blows to my friends, has been a unusual number of patients to which I’ve had to be the bearer of bad news.
Over the last three weeks the phrase, “I’m so very sorry , but it appears that your baby has no heart beat” has left my mouth way too many times. It never gets easier to say. Each time my stomach turns and my heart aches as I turn to the mother to gauge her reaction.
In these moments, I wish I could do more. I wish there was a test I could draw to give an answer. I dream of a magic text book I could consult to find the perfect medication to cure all their ills. I’m a doctor, a fixer, a problem solver. With problems of the heart, there are no easy answers. I feel inept and frustrated. With all the loss I‘ve gone through, I should be able to draw from my experience to find the right words of comfort. After writing a book about a peace filled pregnancy, I should be able to quote the perfect scripture to make everything OK.
For my friends and my patients that I can’t ‘fix’, what I can do is be there. I can listen and provide a caring touch. I can comfort and reassure them. I can give them permission to grieve. I can acknowledge the depth of their loss. I can encourage them that some day the hurt will fade. I can pray. And I can hope that these things are enough.
Sometimes I can find a medical issues that can be treated, giving hope for the future. But I can’t heal their heart. Only God can do that. While I am imperfect and frustrated, He “the Great Physician” is enough.