This week an e mail arrived it had a link to a recording which explored compassion in healthcare education.
I clicked on it.
This week I also spoke to different ladies whose husbands had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. One lady whose husband had the possibility of surgery and possible cure but whose hope has been dashed by infection and subsequent spread of the cancer. The other lady whose husband had stage 4 pancreatic cancer with no possibility of cure and she too had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
The conversations with both of these ladies evoked sadness, anger and tears, an intense pain knowing that pancreatic cancer is a disease that is so cruel that gives people so little hope, such devastation. The conversations also evoked compassion I could see, hear and feel their suffering and I wanted to do something to relieve it. I felt impotent, the only two things I could offer them was my ability to listen and to give a little experiential advice, it didn’t feel compassionate enough.
This impotence caused the tears to fall thick and fast.
Back to the message on which I had clicked the link, it opened a recording and before me I saw a woman. She started to speak, she talked of the death of her husband, she told me their story. She talked of suffering not recognised, therefore not alleviated, compassion couldn’t be enacted as the suffering wasn’t seen, heard or recognised.
The woman on the screen talked about in normal circumstances being articulate, reasonably intelligent and assertive, but also talked of the how a healthcare organisation its systems process and protocols completely stripped of all her agency, of feeling disempowered, of feeling worthless.
This woman and her story made me cry, she evoked such emotion, such compassion I could feel her suffering, I could see and hear the lack of compassion in her experience and that of her husband.
All of this happened 8 years ago, but it was still so raw, so relevant, so emotional and so painful…. that’s what made me cry.
The woman telling the story was me…. I sat and cried for me, I cried for Seth and cried for the two ladies and their husbands.