Reluctant Heroes: When Men in Nursing Cry

Reluctant Hero / graphite, charcoal, and pastel on paper / by Julianna Paradisi 2017

I first learned the effect a man’s tears have on my emotions from the parents of my young patients when I was a pediatric intensive care nurse.

I am not unaffected by the tears of a woman, but in the PICU the tears of the mothers differed in nature from the tears of the fathers.

A mother with a hospitalized child will cry, and when overwhelmed, she will break down. But in the PICU, more often than not, she took a tissue from the box I handed her, wiped her eyes, breathed deeply, and then put on a brave face to protect her child from knowing her fear and concern over his welfare.

When the father cried, it was an admission of helplessness. His problem-solving toolbox was empty. The tears represented feelings of personal failure, powerlessness to protect his child and family from disease or trauma. His criteria for being a father, or a man, was eroded.

These displays of total soul-brokenness undid me every time. […]

2017-01-18T10:32:08+00:00 January 17th, 2017|career, men in nursing, Nursing|5 Comments