One of the most heartbreaking and gut-wrenching verbal communications that we experience is hearing that our family member and pet has a terminal/fatal disease or injury. What are some of our first responses as we receive this news? Is it anger, disbelief, anguish, despair, or denial? If you are any part human, you probably experience a mixture of these emotions. How do you deal with and sort out these feelings? Do you internalize these feelings (like me), do you lash out at an unexpecting party, or do you logically discuss these emotions? Also, does the delivery of this news matter? We have all had interactions with doctors (veterinarians and human physicians) that communicate very well, displaying compassion and empathy, as well as, those with the personality that rivals a brick in the pavement. Unfortunately, I have been on both the receiving end and the giving end of various levels of unwanted news and know that while bad news is bad news, compassion and tact in delivery does help in accepting the news and aids us in beginning the steps of acceptance and sorting our feelings.
While illness and death are topics that are not often discussed, they are topics that are unfortunately, a part of life that creep up from time to time. My goal of this small series is to look at emotions and feelings that are associated with these unavoidable topics. My point of view is from one delivering the negative news and the emotions that I see exhibited. Giving good news and success stories are easy, it is how you deliver negative news that define you as a clinician and fellow human. My hope is that this discussion can be enlightening and possibly help someone that may be going through a difficult time in their life.
While we all can recall bad experiences, what are some of the good communication skills that you have encountered? Remember that words and body language used can impact others more than we may ever know. Please share on either this page or the Facebook page (Kevin Benjamino DVM, DACVS). Also, what were some of the initial emotions that you experienced?