I love the work that I do, but I also know that there is a real possibility that I will cry at work.I have a few projects that can be emotionally challenging but recently one caught me right in the feels.
I interview with families who have had acute experiences with loved ones in the ICU. The other day I was reading about the family’s situation and something about their situation just broke me down. I read through this stuff on a daily basis; most days I can make it through the emotions of the cases remembering that we are doing this research to try to help other families in the future. This one story had me crying and hurting for the family. It could have been because I had interacted with a few families already, so this family was just the last drop of water to overflow my eyes but it was challenging.
It can be hard to do the emotional labor needed to be helpful, to do qualitative research, to talk to people in the hospital. For me, only part of my work day is interacting with heartbroken families. For the doctors, the majority of their job is with the distressed families and the heartbreaking stories that they are working to make less heartbreaking. When I do feel broken down by the cases that I see, I am reminded of my need for self-care in this space and also, that the work I’m doing is supporting the work of others.