I had a day in the units a while back where I had family meeting after family meeting after family meeting. I changed the code status of 4 patients in one day. It was draining. I do a good job. Every nurse and doctor and social worker that helps me through one of these family meetings always thanks me for doing such a good job.
And part of that is conveying to the family what we know and what we think without crushing them. It's a process. It's gently telling people that we don't think mom is going to pull through. We think, if it was our mom, we'd start to think about calling it quits. It's trying to be subtle while smacking someone with a sledge hammer.
It's an art, delivering horrible news. And after 4 in a day, I was drained. I couldn't do another. And I passed up a few other families because I couldn't look them in the eye and do it again. I couldn't shake the hand of another tearful son or husband or wife or daughter and shit all over their hopes and wishes. I couldn't have someone else thank me for killing their loved one.
I think that the nurses and everyone thanks me so profusely for doing this because they are so very glad that they did not have to do the hard part. They can just back me up, toe the line, offer tissues and support, knowing that when the family thinks back to the death of their loved ones, they'll think of me, whether as a hero or heel.