Related Stories

Last week's column regarding the tragic case of Jahi McMath generated a considerable amount of reaction, all of it thoughtful, some of it provocative. There was none of the irrational and hateful commentary that has been present in some responses found in other electronic media sites over the last month.

The 13-year-old girl in question, declared brain-dead but kept on life-support systems nonetheless on the order of her family, died after a tonsillectomy went terribly bad. The aftermath has been unsettling, emotional, sometimes confrontational and intensely sad.

It was the view in this corner that the girl's family members deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt, particularly if you haven't walked in their shoes and endured a similarly traumatic situation involving a child.

Dr. Marty Klein, a Palo Alto psychologist, responded with a slightly different take. He wrote that, although he does most definitely sympathize with the family members and empathizes with the loss of an innocent child, he does not feel the ensuing unseemly public spectacle, encouraged and exacerbated by the family's attorney, has served them well. Here are some of his comments:

"Your column misses the essential point of reasonable people who are disturbed by the McMath family's behavior and media coverage of it. I can easily emphasize with the family's grief. And I don't deny them any adult expression of it. But these people refuse to deal with their grief in an adult way. They have lost a child but refuse to acknowledge this.


Advertisement

—...This is what I and many others find pathetic -- adults who refuse to acknowledge painful reality, which all of us are eventually forced to do...Whether they hear voices from God or voices from Napoleon, this family's continued temper tantrum sullies all of us who deal with tragedy, loss and the unfairness of the universe.

—...By insisting on speaking to the media daily, by keeping an attorney who insists on speaking to the media daily, they are inviting judgment and ridicule...To repeat, I empathize with their grief and I harshly judge their behavior."

Another reader, Susan Miller, has her own opinion. To wit:

"I feel such pain for those loved ones watching on the sidelines, not knowing what happened, what to do and how to let go of their precious child. Your response resonated with me because, about seven years ago, my daughter was hospitalized a few days before Christmas.

—...When I thought of this family struggling, I remember how I came home after she finally came out of her coma to the cookie dough that stayed too long in the refrigerator, the dried-out Christmas tree and the knee-high backyard grass.

—...When Jahi's hospital wanted to pull the plug on a child patient right before Christmas, I felt it was a cold move and cynically wondered if they were trying to cover up something with their action. If I were to judge anyone in this case, it would be the hospital.

—...While we were in the hospital, we met some wonderful, intelligent, brave and helpful people. But we also met a lot of clueless people at all levels.

—...Thank you again for asking the public to reserve judgment."

John Horgan's column appears Thursday. You can contact him by email at johnhorganmedia@gmail.com.or by regular mail at P.O. Box 117083, Burlingame, CA 94011.