A Level Playing Field

Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most
Must mourn the deepest o’er the fatal truth,
The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life.
George Byron

As mentioned previously, each spring the residents at Floating Hospital hold a memorial service to honor the young patients that died over the preceding twelve months. At this year's memorial service, one of the residents who spoke asserted that he "was not worthy" to offer his condolences to us, the parents in the audience. Not being a family member, not even being a father, he not could imagine that he would have the insight to console us. My news to all residents: you are worthy. Your grief is meaningful.

You were a vital member of the medical group that cared for our child. You observed first hand the difficulties that our child went through and you worked to relieve her suffering. You held a privileged part in our child’s life. You were part of our "team".

No one expects you to experience grief in the same way as a parent. Even family members experience grief differently: a sibling, a grandparent, an uncle all have different perspectives. To the best of my knowledge, there is no unit of measure for comparing grief. So I recognize all grief as being equal in its meaningfulness and sincerity. We grieve together for the same cause and that has given us a powerful bond.

When it comes to dealing with grief, we are all on a level playing field. Unlike the hospital, where we deferred to your medical expertise, none of us knows more about dealing with grief than the other. There are no established treatment protocols that we can refer to. We need each other to deal with our emotions. We must look out for one another. You are not here to console us. We are here to console one another.

Sorrow makes us all children again, destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest knows nothing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson