I will never forget the first time I experienced the death of a patient.
My patient. It was hard. Facing his family was harder.
Nobody prepares you for the wave of emotions you will feel after you lose a patient.
Becoming the bearer of the worst news someone will hear about their loved one is of the hardest parts of being a Physician.
When we provide care for a patient, we get to know them in a way most people don’t.
We see them when they’re battling an illness that’s been long and hard, when they’re scared and most vulnerable.
We examine their bodies and take notice in all their details.
We ask them intimate questions about their environment, family, sexuality, and overall health to get a better understanding of the illness that’s affecting them.
We answer questions of possible scenarios and complications.
We provide comfort and reassurance.
We see them everyday. We talk about life, about goals, about healthcare.
We get involved and invested in their wellbeing and overall health.
We root for them to improve. They become our family.
But we’re expected not to grieve at the loss of a patient.
We are trained to be rational. We are supposed to keep our poise and not show emotion.
As a loved one crumbles in front of our eyes, were expected to hold them.
When a patient dies, whether ”expected or not” it affects us.
We grieve in silence. We carry that sadness that comes the loss alone.
Sometimes for the rest of our lives.
With any loss comes grief.
Let us normalize healthcare related grief.
Our loses our felt deeply. Sometimes we’re alone in the process.
It’s ok to feel sad and emotional about the loss of a patient.
This doesn’t make you less profesional, but a better healthcare provider, and also a human,
It’s time we start talking about healthcare provider grief, and providing tools to deal with it.
By creating a space to acknowledge them, we promote a safe environment where we all feel supported and not judged. Let’s continue to talk about it and work towards healing together.