“I should have checked in, should’ve called someone. You need that team of supporters. Don’t isolate yourself. It’s about finding your people,” said Todd Rinehart, LICSW, of the Palliative Care Division, recalling an experience after the loss of one of his patients.

Rinehart was one of four speakers who shared their experiences with loss at the May 8 Schwartz Center Rounds for the Primary Care Community, “Who is Caring for Us? Clinicians’ Experience of Loss.”

“The whole idea of the Schwartz Rounds is to talk about our experiences with patients we’ve worked with,” said Karen A. O’Brien, MD, of the Palliative Care Division and Schwartz Center Rounds chair. “This year, we think about losses we all experience – the loss of patients, loss of friends, loss of family, loss of colleagues. It’s a lot to process and we as clinicians don’t always take the opportunity to reflect upon the loss.”

Panelists shared various ways they cope with loss and how they pay tribute to and remember their patients and families – including sending weekly bereavement cards, holding memorial services, and venting and supporting each other.The main coping strategy that each speaker noted: finding people to support them and not keeping the grief to themselves.

“Loss is universal and we need to acknowledge those losses,” said O’Brien. “We lose a part of ourselves and I don’t think it’s always easy to keep going with the same passion.”

Attendees were invited to text the name of someone they’ve recently lost, and a name collage appeared on the screen as a way to remember them.At the end of the Rounds, a bouquet of flowers was assembled to be placed in the chapel – another way to pay tribute to loved ones, colleagues and patients.

“These rounds are unlike any of the other grand rounds that happen here at the hospital,” said Barbara Moscowitz, MSW, LICSW, geriatric social worker and Schwartz Rounds facilitator.“The Schwartz Center is devoted to doing everything possible to strengthen the bond between caregivers and patients. This gathering today gives us the opportunity to speak about these experiences and feelings to be able to help others cope with loss.”

The Schwartz Center Rounds are provided with support from The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare and The John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation.

Read more articles from the 05/26/17 Hotline issue.