Monday, November 2, 2009

MiM Mailbag: Working guilt

Hi Mothers in Medicine,

First of all, I want to thank you guys for sharing your lives and experiences with the general audience. I am a person who aspires to work in the medical field some day and reading this website allows me to think that maybe I can have both work and family equally balanced. Recently I have come upon a question that I was asking my self and was completely stumped. I was wondering, if you guys be so kind to help me and give me advice on this matter, I would greatly appreciate it.

The question as follows: How do you guys deal with the guilt and sadness in the event of missing a chance to spend time with a loved one because of work? What do you guys do to make yourselves feel a bit better and be able to continue? Now I'm not referring to missing daughter/son's dance/theater rehearsal, or Auntie's 50th birthday celebration, though those events are quite important; however that kind of guilt one can live with and eventually assuage--I am referring to the lost of a loved one, or friend and that dinner or visit was that last chance one would get. How do you guys work under that cloud of what if that chance is that last chance? Or do you guys eventually learn that life is what it is and come what may? I hope I am not generalizing too much here and not being too naive and callous in asking this question. If this question offends you guys in anyway, feel free to tell me off.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

A

6 comments:

  1. I have no idea what this sentence means:

    Now I'm not referring to missing daughter/son's dance/theater rehearsal, or Auntie's 50th birthday celebration, though those events are quite important; however that kind of guilt one can live with and eventually assuage--I am referring to the lost of a loved one, or friend and that dinner or visit was that last chance one would get.

    Can you please rewrite such that the meaning is clear?

    Thx.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It sounds like she is talking about death. I am not really sure how I deal with this - that everytime I say "no, I can't" but if it was their wedding or I knew they were going die, I would have found a way.

    I guess it is because I believe that those friends and family members I have lost - would have wanted me to study for that test, sleep for the first time in days, spend the day with my kids. We all do the best we can, and none of us can do it all. We all have regrets, whether we have missed something important or something "not important."

    I know that if I am ever suddenly gone - whether as a grandparent, or right now as mom and doctor with young kids, I do not want those I love to spend time regretting what we did not do, but rather cherishing what we did do and doing their best to live full and happy lives. And that is true whether they are someone I see all the time, or the friends who have grown further away due to the specifics of their own lives and mine. SO I belive that these people would feel the same, in the reverse situation. And I have lost people who mattered very unexpectedly. And I miss them everyday - for what they would offer my family if they were still here - we are the worse for having lost them, but not for having known and loved them.

    And I believe they are guardian angels for my little ones.
    This is just my own little prayer of thanks that will make no sense to any of you - but thanks to the dream team for looking out for us.

    ReplyDelete
  3. “I am referring to the type of guilt that manifests in oneself in result of death of a loved one. That one dinner party that you could of gone to if you just got some one to trade call with you or that one trip you could of taken but couldn’t because you were working or you were too damn tired to go anywhere.”

    Is that better? I was so focused in trying to give examples of what I don’t mean and ended up mangling the whole sentence. Sorry about that and hope this clears it up.

    And thank you for replying.

    -A

    ReplyDelete
  4. A,

    We end up missing important events no matter what we choose to do with our lives. Since you can never really know when someone is going to die, it seems silly to worry about missing their last whatever. It's bound to happen whether you become a doctor or a housewife.

    Maybe I still am not understanding your question.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have to agree with OldMDGirl.

    It sounds like maybe a particular event has happened to you that you're struggling with.

    When I was in medical school, I found out that my university supervisor was dying. I had my obs exam in a few days so I talked to him on the phone (he wasn't conscious, his wife just held up the phone to his ear), stayed to write the exam then flew out the next day. He died before I arrived. I honestly never felt any guilt about not going to see him the second I found out.

    I try not to beat myself up for not being able to predict the future.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My favorite grandfather died 2 years ago on a Thursday while I was taking in-house call on a merciless q4 rotation. I had Saturday off (day of the funeral), followed by working 2 weeks straight, and was anticipating a whole weekend off at the very end of the month. Being that I'm in Pittsburgh and the funeral was a 2hr drive north of Boston, it would have been difficult but not impossible to fly out post-call, have my husband drive me to the funeral while I slept, spent the night, and then drive and fly home to work the next day.

    Instead, I missed the funeral, which was a hard decision for my family to understand. I don't think I could have made it through that month without that one day to sleep. I flew out 2 weeks later to spend the weekend with my Grandma, which ended up being an incredible thing as the post-funeral support was starting to wane by then.

    In the end, sometimes you miss important stuff, but I find that things tend to work out the way that they should. I agree with the above post - I try not to beat myself up too much about it.

    ReplyDelete

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