Chapter 1: Communication essentials

When there are no answers

I just don't get it; why is he dying now, just when he was about to retire and enjoy himself? 

I keep asking myself if there was something more I could have done...was there? 

When a family member asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, it is okay to be honest. You are a human being as well as a paramedic and so can't be expected to have all the answers. 

Families may be stuck asking a particular question for a long time, such as the examples above, and are often relieved to know that clinicians do not have the answers either. Other times families are struggling with some of the deeper questions of human existence that have eluded even the wisest of philosophers. Often there are very few certain answers.  

Conversation Prompts

There are times in life when all we are left with are questions. This may be one of these moments and it is not easy. 

I wish I knew the answer but I don’t want to mislead you or say something that isn’t true. 

That’s a question the doctor may be able to answer, though it’s possible they also may not know.

There are mysteries in life that no one has an answer for.