Our social worker and child life specialists speak to the patients and parents, informing them of Kristen’s death and offering support. No one thinks to ask the nurses what we might need. They invent an exercise for us a few days later. Using the bulletin board at the staff end of the hallway, we are invited to write something about Kristen. Our sentiments are to be coded and anonymous for patient confidentiality. The attempt feels like a forced afterthought. I walk away, contributing nothing.
“Have you ever gone to a patient’s funeral?” I ask my friend Debbie. She is also a nurse and we’ve cared for mutual patients over the course of our careers.
From diagnosis to death, my dad’s journey was a callously swift nine months. A strange lump in his thigh turned out to be osteosarcoma, which then...