Science vs. Emotions

I very often start a blog post with not entirely knowing where to actually begin, and this is much the same as any other time but it feels different. I recently opened up on social media about struggling with Imposter Syndrome and feeling like I was largely pointless. At my worst I couldn’t understand the benefit of writing this blog or articles or anything I do, I just didn’t think my writing was interesting or insightful enough to justify it.

Now I’m not asking for you to tell me that my work, my writing or my interviews are worthwhile because at my best I do know that. I just have to accept that I will struggle from time to time with my own intruding doubts. It has been a very emotional time of late and one thing that can be said is when I’m struggling with something I don’t have any confidence in myself and therefore anything I do. The only reason I’m able to open up about this is because I’ve managed to get to a point where I feel valid again.

I will always say the strangest parts of my job is the fact that it’s a scientific role with some huge emotional elements chucked in. I’ve said it a million times but there’s not many people who need to learn in depth scientific stuff alongside understanding the psychological impacts of trauma and high emotions. With the wonder of hindsight I can look back on some of the events of 2020 and really understand how this all fits together neatly in a package of a skilled APT. I’m not fully there yet, but I will be.

I saw the acute impacts of the pandemic from the deceased who died of COVID-19 to the bereaved families dealing with unfamiliar post-death events and tackling the grief process. The wider world is still seeing the larger impacts of lockdown and the pandemic on societies and people as a whole. Science meeting emotions and feelings every time someone discusses it. I saw a post on Facebook last week where someone was discussing the conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic and someone commented that by doing so they were disrespecting the families who had lost someone to the virus. At Death Cafe on Tuesday we once again discussed the long term implications of what happened which no one really understands yet, especially considering we don’t even know if we are over the worst yet.

I suppose the truth is you cannot separate the science wholly from the emotion because you are a human with emotions yourself. I think APTs are especially aware of this in our everyday lives, fascinated by the technical while being sympathetic to the needs of the deceased and their family and friends. It puts us in a difficult position but one that I wouldn’t give up for anything now, the bridge between the two providing support and knowledge to the people going through that. It’s strange yes, and complicated, but it feels right to us that do it.

Myself and the other trainee always say that we would like to see a disaster mortuary in action. We also immediately suffix that with the fact we would hate to witness a disaster that would justify the need for the mortuary to be that way, but it would be interesting. In that same way, I would never have said before this year I’d love a pandemic situation but I certainly had wondered about how that would work in the mortuary of our size and position.

I’m not for one second saying I’m glad the pandemic occurred, but I am grateful for the lessons and experience it has given me and my team so far. We learnt quickly some skills we didn’t have previously and became more confident in some we already had. I think we all became a little tougher in ourselves in stressful situations and about managing things during almost crisis like situations. We became stronger and closer as a team than we probably would ever have done.

If that all sounded rather grand and momentous it was kind of meant to, that’s currently where I’m at with it all. Next week something very exciting happens assuming we don’t get plunged back into full lockdown at a moments notice. I’m probably not going to blog post for at least a week unless I manage to get the next Neck Appreciation post written this weekend which could happen. Stay safe and thank you so much for reading.

MG x

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