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October 3, 1977

The Forensic Pathologist: "Family Physician" to the Bereaved-Reply

Author Affiliations

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Cleveland

JAMA. 1977;238(14):1496. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280150066010

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In Reply. —  My thanks to Drs Mayhew and Gillette for their kind words. I certainly did not wish to imply "that the forensic pathologist must or should stand alone in his role of comforting the bereft." I have frequently referred the bereaved to ministers, "real" family physicians, social workers, and others who can give solace and comfort at these trying moments, and I accept completely the concept that other persons (ie, nonforensic pathologists) can provide "continuing support to the bereaved." However, when death occurs, as the phrase has it, "suddenly, unexpectedly, or while the person is in apparent good health," there is frequently no clinical attendant to take up the burden, and the responsibility of talking to the family falls, by default if you will, on the shoulders of the postmortem anatomic investigator.My major thesis was (and is) that the forensic pathologist is in the strategic position of