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The Science of Compassion; and the Art of Letting Go


I thought I would write this blog before my journey for New Years. I hadn’t planned on writing this; but an inspiration arose in the most unlikely of places. So, I dedicate this blog to Robert Kelly Corbett; who through patience and a willingness to understand my gruffness, motivated me.

Also, I dedicate this blog to Jahi McMath; an angel that saw an unfulfilled life, cut short far too soon.


As a mother, I can only sympathize with Jahi’s mother. I cannot imagine losing one of my girls to a circumstance that seems so benign and pointless really. A tonsillectomy gone terribly, terribly wrong. I will not speculate as to these circumstances as I refuse to dishonor a child’s memory that way. She was and is innocent.

However, as a nurse that has seen more death than the average person; I cannot and do not agree with the family decision to keep this child alive. There are criteria that multiple physicians must use by law to determine brain death. It is not haphazard, nor happenstance. Unfortunately, there are rare miracles in this life, far too rare. The odds are stacked against Jahi that she would be one of those miracles.

There is a science to compassion. People often think of compassion as all warm and fuzzy, with sunshine around the edges. Reality is often not this way, and compassion must take a colder, harder, measured approach to this reality. According to Webster’s Dictionary a science is “the knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation”. Compassion can be experimented with and observed in the natural world. Compassion is sometimes not about warm and fuzzy; it’s about empathy, quality of life, and hard ass decisions. The science of compassion often bleeds into the art of letting go. I do not chose those words lightly.

It is bleeding, it is loss; because you are letting go. It is painful, it is horrendous and often accompanies a torrent of tears. It is a part of our condition as humans; this art of letting go. Life can be so joyous and wondrous: It can also be devastatingly oppressive and dark. The question of the hour MUST be- “What would Jahi want if she could tell you?” I cannot assume to know. All I can see is pictures of her laughing and playing that are plastered all over the news: and she is no longer that child.


When I graduated nursing school we had to memorize the Nurse’s Oath. We were not allowed to have notes or cheat; we had to memorize it. It has never left me. So, for those that think I, and others like me, don’t deserve the “title” of nurse. A nurse isn’t a title: It isn’t a badge. It is who we are as people. Perhaps that piece of your humanity has gotten lost along the way. Despite all my years of seeing death and destruction in the ER/ Trauma ICU/ OR/ Recovery Room/ Cardiac Catheterization Lab/ Open Heart ICU/ Neuro-surgery ICU; I never lost my science of compassion- nor my art of letting go.

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly to pass my life in purity and to practise my profession
I shall abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and shall not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.
I shall do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession and will hold in confidence all
personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my
I shall be loyal to my work and devoted towards the welfare of those committed to my care.



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