Sallie Tisdale’s Quietly Groundbreaking Essays About Caring for Others
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There is even a hierarchy among staff that determines how much emotion you are expected to show or disguise. Some maintain a professional distance throughout, while others must toggle between restraint and display. “The doctors don’t cry in front of the patients,” Tisdale observes in another essay, “because the nurses do it for them.”

Her experience as a nurse also informs her understanding of the ethical questions addressed in her essay “Violation,” about who really owns a story and who should tell it. “I don’t have the right to know what I know about others,” Tisdale says about her patients, “to see what I see of their secrets.” How do you write about being a caretaker without damaging the caring relationship? How can you convey the realities of that work without undoing some of it?

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