Responsibilities beyond grief and pain

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I stood near the door of the ICU gathering my thoughts. I knew that I would be bombarded by questions the moment I walked out. I understood how anxious they had been for the last one week. It was not easy for any family to see their child in a state of coma with little hope for revival immediately after giving birth to a baby.

They had been hesitant to consult me until it became evident that the pregnant girls’ condition was worsening. Her blood pressure refused to come down even as the due date drew nearer. Her body had started swelling up because of fluid accumulation leading to edema. I wonder why her gynecologist didn’t realize the criticality of the situation and insist on a premature delivery!

I took control of the situation despite knowing that I was mostly fighting a lost battle. Getting a team together in a Government hospital of a Tier-2 city wasn’t an easy job. No gynecologist was ready to take her case initially because of the risks involved. So I had no option but to encash on my personal equations within the fraternity to ensure that she gets the best facilities despite limited means.

A week back, her c-section had led to a successful delivery. The families danced with joy as the bundle of happiness arrived in the form of a baby girl. I left the hospital around 2am knowing that God had helped me win a race against life. Both the mother and baby had been doing fine.

But my happiness was short-lived. At 6am in the morning, when my phone screen buzzed with a call from the hospital’s land-line number, I knew there was bad news. My fears were justified as I was told how the new mother had concussions followed by a heart attack. She had slipped into the comatose state. I rushed to see her in the hospital ICU. Except for her eyelids, no part of her body responded.

Responsibilities beyond grief and pain

For the last one week, she had been on life support system. I saw the families crumbling in front of my eyes, trying to fathom the uncertain future that lay ahead. It pained me the most to think of the plight of the newborn. Every time I saw the baby, I was reminded of my own two-year-old.

But last evening, all hopes died as I examined her one last time. Her body and soul had both ceased to be with us. But it was her parents’ anniversary and I didn’t want them to remember the day for the devastating loss forever. So I chose to keep the bad news to myself, writhing in agony the whole night.

Today morning, I knew that it was time to tell them the truth. I had gradually tried preparing the families for the inevitable. I faced them with an expressionless face as the words came out, “She is no more”.  My words shattered the last straw of hope for the families. I could see her mother clutch onto her father’s arm as uncontrollable sobs escaped their mouths. Her husband had fainted.

For the last thirteen years of being a doctor, I have realized that the toughest aspect of my profession was to keep personal relationships separate from professional insights. As a critical care intensivist, I had always known that her chances of survival were minimal. But as her elder cousin brother, I wanted to believe in the power of miracles. Unfortunately, the logical doctor won over the emotional brother in the climax of this story.

I knew that neither my uncle and aunt nor my parents or my cousins’ marital family were in a condition to think beyond their loss at the moment. But there was another life, a newborn in the NICU (neonatal ICU) who needed extreme care. Until someone else from the family could step in, I had decided that the baby was going to be my responsibility. After instructing the nurse to complete the official formalities, I walked away from the family, pushing back my tears to take up the duty of a doting maternal uncle since at that point everyone else was grieving.

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Authors Note – This story would best be described as fiction based on the real events that shattered my marital family this July. I dedicate it to my doctor husband and every medical professional who put their personal loss behind to take care of their professional commitment. Thank you for keeping our faith in humanity alive.

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Who am I? An erstwhile banker turned blogger/writer/author. Any qualifications? A Post-Graduate degree in Chemistry followed by a second Post-Graduate Diploma in Management. I completed a one-year MFA in creative writing course from the Writer's Village University, U.S. in Dec 2020. Though I must admit that I am still trying to figure out how and when I can connect all these dots. Have I done any real work? If two years in market research, six years in banking as a branch head, three-plus years of blogging, writing, and publishing a book can be considered as real work, then yes! Where do I live? After spending life like a nomad for sixteen years in Delhi, Bangalore & Mysore, I am back to where it all started from - Kolkata. My favorite things - Books, coffee, travel, food, and my five-year-old son. What is this blog about? Through Sonia's musings, I intend to explore writing in various genres, create social awareness, spread laughter, and give words to emotions. Anything for readers? You can check out my book 'Deal of Death' on Amazon Kindle. If you like fast-paced thrillers, this Detective fiction introducing the woman sleuth, Raya Ray could turn out to be your perfect weekend read.

57 thoughts on “Responsibilities beyond grief and pain”

    1. Very true M. I’ve heard my husband telling at times how it is both a blessing and a curse to treat family members. The bad news is always known to the doctor first. Thank you for reading.


  1. I can’t imagine what your husband must have gone through. At first I thought it was fiction, but the footnote made me re-read it and I was near tears. It’s so tough to be in that kind of a situation, especially as a doctor. Not enough is said to reward doctors and their selflessness. May their tribe grow and may we always appreciate them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My husband often says that being a doctor is a double edged sword. While the family members have the comfort of the correct treatment, the doctor is also the first one to know when there’s a bad news. And it gets difficult when it is one’s own family member. I witnessed it this July and have been meaning to write about this incident that left my marital family devastated. Really hats off to professionals from this fraternity. Thanks for reading.


  2. Doctors are really great. It needs great mental strength to handle these situations. Hats off. This profession is not meant for weak hearted one. I am sorry for the loss of your family. May her soul rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading Maya. This is unfortunately based on the real incident of my husband’s first cousin. I have seen him pull himself together for the sake of the family and the newborn.


  3. You know Sonia II never read even your fictions as fictions… I don’t know how you do it… but I become part of your stories. When I read them it’s almost like I entered into them and become one of those characters. Imagine your fictions have such magic. so now you can believe what all I must have felt when I knew that’s its not fiction but a true story and that too so personal one for you.
    I am so proud that I know someone like you in this lifetime.
    Wonderful… Lot’s of love

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is because of friends like you that I stay motivated. This was definitely a piece that drained me emotionally but your comment and love made it worth the effort. I’m equally glad to have found a friend like you.


  4. I cannot even imagine what emotional turmoil your husband must have gone through. To see a person who has grown with you, in such a state is heartbreaking…but then he had to think from a doctor’s perspective and fulfil his responsibility. When he would have wanted to cry for his family member, he had to take a grip on himself to perform his duties as a doctor. It is difficult… indeed very difficult. I can only say… Deep respect

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading Preeti. My husband lost his first cousin this July in a similar situation. I knew that he was shattered from within yet he pulled himself together for the sake of his family, the new born and his patients. It is indeed really difficult to be in his shoes.


  5. Touching story, Sonia. Authentic description of the doctor’s dilemma and the critical situation.
    It’s a true story.
    Wish we didn’t have to go through such loss. But, some events are beyond our control and desire…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true Anita. I have heard my husband mention at times, how difficult it gets when you are the first person to know about an inevitable situation of your own family member. Yet doctors put their personal life behind to fulfill professional commitment. Thanks for reading.


  6. Stories are stories, they touch us, they intrigue us, they move and they leave an indelible mark in our psyche. And when we work on stories with doctors and the setting is hospital, it is always promise to be poignant. One side there is the joy of seeing one life coming to this earth and on the other side we see the giver of life is struggling to hold onto her life. The paradox so much of a mirror of what happens to us in life and we keep wrestling between these contrasting situations in life. Some time it goes well with us and we reconcile with the good, and many times it is disconnected and we are at loss of words, the struggle to reconcile puts us in abject dilemma. Sonia, beautifully crafted characters and setting, loved the whole flow and the narration in its entirety.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. I wish I could say that this was fiction. Unfortunately, this is a real life incident that shattered my marital family leaving them devastated this July. Though I have tweaked certain scenarios, but it is based on my husband’s situation when his first cousin passed away after child birth. Probably because it came from extreme pain, this post touched a chord with most.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So sorry to hear. I can understand the pain one goes through in such situations and never easy to put one’s own experience in such measured words. One can feel this story and it touches everyone’ heart and here you have demonstrated all your wisdom to craft such sensitive story of life.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Very sad story. We quite often forget about the many possible risks involved in pregnancy and childbirth. Even with the great medical care available and professional dedication, nothing is guaranteed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. First things first, Sonia. I read all your posts, the moment I see them live but unfortunately, I could not comment from my mobile as it asks me to log in to my WordPress account whose credentials have long been forgotten. I have opened my laptop after almost 4-5days as keeping busy with family in India and here I am 🙂 Loved all 3 of your latest posts. Absolutely love your writing. And what to say about this post, how I wish it was a fiction but sadly it wasn’t. How beautifully you have weaved it, is commendable and kudos to your husband for such a heartwarming decision.

    Liked by 1 person

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