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MNAAP Newsletter

A Loss to us All

By Sarah Atunah Jay, MD

As a pediatric physician, I have only once attended the funeral of a patient. It is a rare situation that children die, and I have been fortunate to have encountered very few of those occasions. A child’s death is traumatic to all parties involved: family members, friends, medical providers. As the medical team, we cannot but wonder if there was anything we could have done save that child. Wonder if we are implicated in their death.

I knew I had to attend the funeral. I remember the child. I remember the family. I was fairly certain no one else would attend the funeral from the medical establishment in which this child breathed his last breath. While I knew we did not raise the child, that we did not witness his first step, hold his hand on the way to school, or pray with him every night, I knew that we, the medical team, were in fact intimately woven into the fabric of his life. Therefore, though I was sad and regretful that my profession could not save his life, I also could not obviate myself from joining in his family’s marking of that life.

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