"Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows"

August 19, 2017

I remember every conversation I've ever had when I've learned about a loved one dying. I can recall exactly where I was, exactly who called, exactly what they said, and their exact tone of voice. 

My brother called me today to let me know my grandmother had died. We knew this was coming. She had been on hospice for several weeks. She had stopped eating much of anything. She stopped having the energy for conversation a long time ago. The last real conversation I had with her, she told me, "Tate, I'm dying. I'm ready to die." 

The process of dying looks different for every person. Sometimes it is short, other times it's prolonged. But there is one thing I do know - - it's never easy. 

The picture above was taken two years ago, on July 25, 2015, with my last remaining grandparents. With my parents divorce, I never had my grandparents together in one place until my white coat ceremony. This photo was taken by my mother - and it's so precious to me. 

In just over two years time, all three of my grandparents have died. In just two years. It all happened so fast. 

While I would never have imagined I would have watched all of my grandparents die in just two years, I am grateful. I am grateful for all they taught me. I am grateful for all the time they spent building relationships with me. I am grateful I have such vivid, sweet memories with them. I am grateful for what I've learned about death, dying, and grief. 

I have learned so much about how I process grief, as well as others around me. It's a lesson I never wished to learn so young, but I am thankful nonetheless. I have been reminded of the many faces of grief each time I lose a loved one, and it opens my heart be more understanding of others and the struggles they face. 
Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows, which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.
Moving into my clinical years, I hope to carry the lessons I've learned with me to help me be a more compassionate physician. I hope my heart remains full of empathy and understanding each time I work with family members losing a loved one. Death can bring every emotion to the surface, and we often have little control over the ebb and flow. One of the greatest lessons over the past two years has been learning how to ride the inevitable waves of emotion that come with each loss.

I will miss you, grams. You'll be in my heart forever. 

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