Medicine from the heart . . . Stephanie Carter Each Thursday, the Daily Voice showcases selected Thursday Morning Memos, reflective essays about clinical experiences written by faculty, alumni, residents and students of the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health and, occasionally, contributors from other departments. Thursday Morning Memos is UMass Medical School’s homegrown version of narrative medicine, in which the authors process their experiences through writing. To learn more, visit: http://www.umassmed.edu/news/articles/2011/personal_stories.aspx.
This reflects on an interaction I had with a family while on night float last month in the moments after I went to the room to pronounce a patient. The nurse had informed me when she called that the family missed being with her at the time of her death by five minutes. It was a poignant learning experience for me. Missed I said "I'm sorry you were not able to be here with her." Her face fell What she heard: "You weren't here" "You didn't make it" "You didn't want her to be alone" "You took too long to get here" What I meant: "I'm sorry I didn't call sooner" "I'm sorry I couldn't predict" "I'm sorry for what you are going through" "I'm sorry your mother has died" Next time I'll stop at "I'm sorry"