Monday, September 7, 2015

What Is So Funny About Death?

As health professionals and workers, death and suffering is a natural occurrence that we deal with everyday. So much so that many of us have developed a callous and apathetic attitude towards it, even to the point where we make fun and laugh about it.  Just this morning as I opened my Facebook, the first thing I saw was that of a status post about the "heavens opening" and following that, were tongue in cheek comments about patients who died during the shift.  As I read through it, my immediate reaction was to view these statements coming from health professionals, as inappropriate and insensitive.  But then, as I thought about it, I realized that my opinion was made because I knew these people.  Others who were not familiar with them would not think the same way I did, because without any biases, the remarks were actually innocent enough, like some private joke between people who work together.

So what is so funny about death and dying?  None whatsoever!  Yet, funny sometimes happen in hospital settings where death has become ordinary. Doctors, nurses and other health professionals make jokes, talk humorously or flippantly about death. This is not to say that we belittle the pain that death brings, but rather that this seemingly insensitive attitude has become our defense mechanism against the harsh realities of life.  When we lose our patients after trying so hard to keep them alive, part of us dies too and we need something to bring our balance back.  That something is often...HUMOR. Yes, improper as it may be, but humor helps keep us rational, conscious and lucid, ready to get back to work in saving humanity.  

(retrieved from source)

And so, the next time you see health workers smiling or even giggling amidst death, please don't misinterpret our behavior and get angry...we do not mean any harm and believe it or not, we feel your pain; but unlike most people who encounter death as an occasional experience, we on the other hand will continue to see this every single day for the rest of our working life. We may be perceived as superhuman...but nevertheless, still human after all.

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