Good Grief, Bad Grief: Every doctor who's practiced long enough to lose more than a couple of patients knows the pain of being blamed - justly or unjustly - for the loss. Sometimes it's just a feeling conveyed by stoney stares and taciturn questions as you explain why a loved one died. Sometimes it's a formal accusation in the form of a lawsuit. But sometimes it's a full frontal assault of the type that's going on down in Crawford, Texas.
The Cindy Sheehan saga calls to mind a story I once heard from another physician. One day, as she was going about town on some errands, she was completely blindsided by a woman who accused her of killing her mother. The doctor hadn't a clue who the woman, or her mother, was. Her accuser had the advantage of having seen her name during the course of a business transaction. It's a no-win situation for the accused - caught off guard by another person's passionate conviction, delivered with the confidence of an assumed absolute moral authority. What do you say in such a situation? "I'm sorry" would be the kindest answer, but how can you be sincerely sorry if it's not clear who you're being accused of killing? A frank denial would be wrong, too, for the same reason. "Who are you?" seems callous. "Why do you think I killed your mother?" might trigger more very public, vindictive abuse. In the end, all you can do is recognize it as a Chief Brody Slap, walk away, and hope she doesn't decide to stalk you. There's just no reasoning with madness. posted by Sydney on
8/13/2005 06:15:00 PM