I look forward to reading Dr. Edwin Leap's Second Opinion pieces in EMN, as do so many others. I have often said I will write a letter to the editor but then never do. The November article was so touching and rang so true with things I have thought and felt over the years that I wanted to commend him on putting the essence of what we do into words. (“Our Gift, Our Calling, Our Sorrow.” EMN 2011;33:13; http://bit.ly/LeapCalling.)
It is a privilege to be in our position and be trusted with these most trying times in people's lives. I also have seen my comfort with “nothing to offer” grow over the years as I have had more sorrows and experiences of my own. I no longer try to avoid these uncomfortable scenes, and hope I am helping in some way.
It is difficult to discuss this perspective with friends and family who have the luxury of pretending that loss is a remote possibility. I think we get a perspective early in our careers to not sweat the small stuff.
It is a gift that we receive from our patients and their families. I have marveled at the grace, kindness, and dignity many have shown near the end of their time with their “poor, defeated” bodies. It has shown me how to be when I am in that place in some “far distant hospital,” perhaps disappointed that it is time to go but not “surprised.”
Kathleen Kelly, MD