“How could I witness the death of a patient and feel nothing?”

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  • Hanaa Elkalza says:

    Thank you Dr. Seema,
    You cared for my husband with empathy and compassion in his first admission to Credit Valley, you provided your email so that I may request an update on his status. I respected that you shared a connection which many physicians are careful not to do out of fear that it would be abused. Hazem had 6 or 7 more admissions that year, I remember your name and continually speak highly of the experience of mutual respect that you initiated with us. More recently my manager at the Mississauga Halton LHIN, Corey Bernard has introduced me to your writing and I will share with others as well.

  • Gord Winkel says:

    Hello from Gord. This is a great article. A note of thanks for sharing your thoughts on dealing with mortality, something that physicians and healthcare providers likely contend with more than most in society. Please know that we so appreciate the good work and positive difference that you folks make. We also understand that it must be difficult for folks to continually give of themselves in such a caring and selfless manner, and that coping mechanisms are also important for personal health. Your article helps us understand the realities and difficulties associated with striking such a balance. For those of us on the receiving side, thanks to all of you for the gift of empathy.

  • Cynthia Leung says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Indeed compassion and empathy are fundamental in health care. We need to think of how to better help each clinician or health care provider to cultivate compassion and empathy, instead of burying these qualities.

  • Mike Fraumeni says:

    Compassion, empathy and such. Hmm, do the Health Technology Assessment and Evidence Based Medicine and Guideline academics teach this in Canadian medical schools and follow-up with continuing education courses for Canadian healthcare professionals? And deem this worthy? Someone I doubt it which is a sad reflection on the EBM paradigm of care and how our cherished health care professionals are supposed to act as EBM automatons where an algorithm can suffice for such compassionate and empathic care that is often required.

  • Alina Gildiner says:

    Thank you for writing that out so beautifully. This piece — just taking the time to reflect on and write it — makes it quite evident that you haven’t lost your compassion at all. And, if you ate a box of chocolate for every patient who didn’t make it, you would self destruct and not be able to keep doing the valuable things you’ve been doing, not just as a doc but as a Phoenix Fellow and journalist. It’s good to know you’re out there.

  • Wendy Ungar says:

    What an honest and heartfelt essay. Seema — don’t forget to have compassion for yourself, and forgive yourself for any perceived lack of feeling for your patients. How else could you cope in your profession? I doubt that you truly lack empathy.

  • Anu Narang says:

    Fabulous Seema…it’s beautifully written.I’m sure this happens to most of you doc’s but how many realize and work towards it.


Seema Marwaha


Seema Marwaha is a general internal medicine physician, educator, researcher and journalist in Toronto.

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