A while ago, I posted about how it sucked that every time I go on maternity leave, one or more of my patients gets seriously ill right before I go. I know it’s just part of the job, some of my patients are going to get sick and some are going to die. It just feels worse when it happens and I’m not physically present in the office to get the news.
Well, one of the three patients I was worried about dying while I am off, has died. I got the news the other day that a lovely woman, a patient of mine for 6 years, has succumbed to her blood cancer. I knew it was coming based on reports I had been receiving from her specialists over the summer. I just didn’t think it would happen 2 weeks into my leave. I see most of her family but hadn’t seen them in quite some time. Either they are relatively healthy, or more likely the case, they were busy with caring for their wife and mother. In any case, I am now faced with the question: Do I reach out to the family?
Normally, I wouldn’t hesitate to call the family upon hearing the news that a family member passed away. But I am not working and I haven’t seen the family in almost a year. A part of me wants to reach out, but I worry I may be intruding and perhaps it’s best to just let it go and address it when I see the family again.
And I have to ask myself, am I reaching out for their sake, or my own?