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On My Mind
May 2017

Saying Goodbye

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Medicine Critical Care, Department of Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(5):417. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.4836

“Why didn’t you want to say goodbye in our small group?” she asked. “I don’t like to share those types of emotions in groups,” I instantaneously replied. As I drove home from the final day of an intensive training course where people tended to make quick and lasting relationships, it occurred to me that my rote excuse about not wanting to share my feelings in a group setting wasn’t exactly true. Hadn’t I just spent 2 emotionally exhausting weeks laughing and crying as I shared my most private thoughts with a group of kindred spirits who had come together to improve the care we provide to seriously ill children and their families? In fact, I had just shared everything from my most emotionally powerful death to my personal spiritual history (which I’m not even sure I have shared with my husband). So why didn’t I just say goodbye?

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