Physicians cry too: 6 tips for coping with death and grief as a health care worker

“FYI, your patient died.”

This message from another physician sat in my Epic inbox. Feelings of disappointment and sadness surfaced as I prepared to start my overnight shift in the emergency department. The death of a child simplified to an Epic chat message felt eerily impersonal and distant. 

Months prior to receiving this message, I had another traumatic patient experience in the same emergency department. I will never forget the feeling of my hands on the chest of a four-year-old as I performed compressions – up, down, up, down. I remember my breath, being more tired than I expected, my patient’s curly hair so voluminous and full like the life I imagined he lived before entering the hospital. I remember the unfairness of it all.

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