The unimaginable grief of losing a child suddenly is something that no parent should go through, but sadly it’s a reality for millions across the world.
While medical professionals play witness to this kind of tragedy every day, one doctor has explained just how horrific it is to tell a parent their child has died, especially when the death comes at the hands of a drug overdose or senseless accident.
“It kind of keeps me human. You see, I’m about to change their lives – your mom and dad, that is,” Dr Louis M Profeta wrote in an open letter published on professional networking site LinkedIn. “In about five minutes, they will never be the same, they never be happy again.”
Going into harrowing detail, the doctor explained how maddening it is to have to tell a parent their child has died because they neglected their common sense.
“Right now, to be honest, you’re just a nameless dead body that feels like a wet bag of newspapers that we have been pounding on, sticking IV lines and tubes and needles in, trying desperately to save you,” he wrote. “There’s no motion, no life, nothing to tell me you once had dreams or aspirations. I owe it to them to learn just a bit about you before I go in.
“Because right now . . . all I am is mad at you, for what you did to yourself and what you are about to do to them.
“Maybe you were texting instead of watching the road, or you were drunk when you should have Ubered. Perhaps you snorted heroin or Xanax for the first time or a line of coke, tried meth or popped a Vicodin at the campus party and did a couple shots. Maybe you just rode your bike without a helmet or didn’t heed your parents’ warning when they asked you not to hang out with that “friend,” or to be more cautious when coming to a four-way stop. Maybe you just gave up.
“Maybe it was just your time, but chances are . . . it wasn’t.”
Profeta said he always searches his young patients on Facebook before he delivers the bad news to parents to remind him the deceased was a real person with a real life, that has now been extinguished forever.
“I see your smile, how it should be, the colour of eyes when they are filled with life, your time on the beach, blowing out candles, Christmas at Grandma’s; oh you have a Maltese, too,” he continued.
“I see you standing with your mom and dad in front of the sign to your college. Good I’ll know exactly who they are when I walk into the room. It makes it that much easier for me, one less question I need to ask.”
Lastly, Profeta spoke of the moment when a mother and father realise they will never see their child again and overwhelming grief that consumes them.
“You’re kind of lucky that you don’t have to see it. Dad screaming your name over and over, mom pulling her hair out, curled up on the floor with her hand over her head as if she’s trying to protect herself from unseen blows,” he wrote.
“I check your Facebook page before I tell them you’re dead because it reminds me that I am talking about a person, someone they love — it quiets the voice in my head that is screaming at you right now shouting: “You mother fucker, how could you do this to them, to people you are supposed to love!”