You would think that medical professionals, of all people, would be sensitive when dealing with loss. And while I know that many aren’t comfortable with the topic, I’m still astonished at some of the callous and insensitive things that have been said to patients.
A reader recently shared that her husband took his life. When she told her doctor, he asked, “How did he do it?” When she told him he used helium gas, the doctor said, “Well at least he didn't leave you a mess to clean up.”
I wish this was an isolated instance, but it’s not. Another reader reports that when her baby died eight months into her pregnancy, the doctor that induced labor told her, “It’s for the best.”
Most of us are shocked into silence when told something truly inappropriate. But shouldn’t we say something to let the speaker know that their comments were hurtful? If we say nothing, aren’t we leaving the speaker to think that what they said was okay and then they’re liable to say something hurtful to someone else?
I have had my share of truly inappropriate comments and yet I have never told the speaker how their comments hurt. Should we let someone know that their comment was inappropriate? If so, should we tell them in person or write a note in hope that they’ll be more tactful the next time they speak with someone experiencing loss?
I’d like to hear what you think and learn how others have handled this issue.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.
Image Source: stock.xchng/xymonau