As doctors we confront disease and death on a daily basis. People think that we get used to death and loss over time. Unfortunately that is not true. Although we are advised from the beginning to cultivate detachment, it is not as easy as it sounds. Showing emotions is considered to be a sign of weakness, but most of us fail miserably when it comes to detaching our personal lives from professional life. There are many sleepless nights and some cases stay in our hearts forever. For years, we think about what we could have done differently to change the outcome. However, grief is not a luxury that we are granted as many more lives await our care and we have no other choice but to get back to work the next morning.

In reality, deep down most of us continue to mourn the losses much more than we can ever celebrate the daily victories. Eventually, this leads to emotional exhaustion and physician burn out. We need to break the professional taboo around expressing this unacknowledged grief. While we provide support groups for so many health issues, we also need to develop groups to support doctors and healthcare workers to help them overcome their daily stress and grief.

Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

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