Nurses grieve too
After the boys died, I ordered copies of my medical records. I’m not entirely sure why. Partly because I wanted to see for myself what mistakes might have been made. Partly because I had been given Ativan. My memory of their birth was rather hazy. And partly because this record was one of the few tangible pieces of evidence of their existence and I wanted anything – anything! – that reminded me of that.
When the records arrived, I opened the envelope with some hesitation because I did not know exactly what I would find. When I looked at the nursing notes, my heart ached for what I saw. And not just because the nurses and social worker wrote down the details of their birth. All those things I could not hope to remember in my shock and medication-induced confusion. No, my heart ached because the nursing care notes were already stained with tears. Before I touched these pages someone I didn’t even know, cried for my boys and me. Maybe it was the nurse as she carefully documented my labour progress. Maybe it was the social worker as she read the pages before her consultation with us. It might have been the resident, or the attending physician or even the anaesthesiologist, who I remember was fighting back the tears as he explained the epidural procedure and apologized that there was only so much he could do to take away the pain. The tears might even have belonged to the pathologist and his resident, crying as they read the care notes during the autopsy in an attempt to find the answers, answers that were not there. I spent only 24 hours in hospital from arrival to discharge and during that time, my sons touched a lot of lives, each person having to document their interactions with me and with them in the medical record.
Perhaps it does not matter whose tears they were. They were proof that my sons’ lives mattered. That someone else cared deeply. For that, I am truly grateful and will forever remember that nurses grieve too.
Have you ever connected with your nurse, midwife, obstetrician or other health care provider since your loss? Are you a health care professional who grieves for the losses of your patients? What are your thoughts on this connection?
A great video on a nurse’s grief in stillbirth has been done by a nurse-researcher at York University. I got the idea for the title of this post from there.