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On My Mind
September 2013

Coping on Canvas

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle

Copyright 2013 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(9):795. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2264

As a neonatologist, I see a lot of babies die. Ironically, like most medical doctors, I have no formal training in coping with death. Over time, the emotional turmoil produced by witnessing a baby die may fade from a cry to a whisper. But grief, like sickness, often lingers and debilitates. The physical and mental challenges of caring for critically ill babies, with meager downtime to decompress and emotionally recharge, requires coping mechanisms. Painting has been an effective tool for me to deal with the despair associated with death.

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