Sharing Grief, And A Hug

Joe Wild was taking care of his responsibilities as a groundskeeper for Genesis Health System in Davenport when a woman, her eyes red and moist, walked past.

The woman appeared to have just expended whatever emotion she had left. Joe thought she might need support at a bad time.

He intentionally made eye contact with the woman and tried to ease her into a conversation. “Bad day, huh?’’ he asked.

The woman explained there was nothing more the doctors and nurses could do for her father. He was dying. He was going home that day for whatever time remained of his life.

Joe understood how the woman felt. His own emotions were still near the surface after he had lost his own father. He remembered coming out of the hospital feeling the same way the woman did; drained of emotion and overpowered by the feeling of loss.

“Most everyone who comes into the hospital is concerned about themselves or someone they know,’’ Joe said. “We stopped and talked.’’

They sat and chatted for several minutes. They talked about their fathers and shared their recent experience with grief.

As the conversation ended, the woman said, “You just made me feel so much better. Can I give you a hug?’’

Healthcare can seem technical at times. A loved one of a patient hears about a condition, stages of the disease, treatment options, or lack of options. Clinical information dominates the exchange, sometimes holding emotions beneath the surface.

But compassion isn’t technical or detached. Compassion comes not from a text or from theory, but from a very real place; the human heart.