Here’s a short, but powerful story we found in the New England Journal of Medicine that helps us remember that physicians are first and foremost humans and the mental shield that keeps us protected from emotions and thoughts that might reveal a true vulnerability, even occasionally, must come down.

“I marvel that in a hospital that routinely and efficiently deals with life, death, and all the intervening drama, the passing of our colleague has shattered the established structure for coping with loss,” writes medical oncologist and author Ranjana Srivastava, F.R.A.C.P.  “As an oncologist, I reconcile myself to frequent losses of patients. Yet the loss of a colleague somehow feels like a larger, more grievous, more unjust betrayal.”*

As time goes by, Dr. Srivastava, who practices medicine in Australia, finds she’s still struggling, while her colleagues around her appear to have repaired that mental shield, but have they?

On the Death of a Colleague” is a quick read that reminds us we all process grief in our own way and in our own time.

*N Engl J Med 2015; 372:207-209January 15, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1410385