To be strong.
Strength has a resolute spirit that stands in spite of overwhelming obstacles. We can become a source of strength to our patients and their families. They can draw strength from us. If we are willing to hold their disappointments, their fears, their guilt, not succumbing to desperation, even when that is all the patient and family see at that moment we become an example of strength, which ultimately helps the patients and families develop their own strength.
To be weak.
To jump into the unknown is to know that our weakness will be exposed. To care for the dying requires that we be prepared to take a blind leap of faith into the unknown. In doing so, we must be prepared to allow our weaknesses and vulnerabilities to become part of the encounter. If I find the sting of tears behind my eyes, am I less of a physician if my patient sees those tears? In my own vulnerabilities, I may just find the answers I seek for my patient.
from Dr. Walter Hunter’s 12 Imperatives for Working with the Dying