I remember one night as a resident on call I was paged to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in the middle of the night. A young child had a horrific drowning accident and his lungs were not able to deliver oxygen to his brain. He was quickly rushed to the hospital and then transported to the hospital where I worked. I was called in to assess his brain function and consult with the family.
His examination was not good, and his mom was understandably devastated. As I tried to talk to her to explain what his examination told me regarding the damage to his brain, I quickly realized that not only was she not in an emotional space to listen and hear, but she seemed to already know. She was crying uncontrollably and so, not knowing what else to do as a young doctor, and trying to control my own emotions as many of us are trained to do, I just sat down next to her. She cried on my shoulder.