Healing the Physician’s Story: A Case Study in Narrative Medicine and End–of–Life Care

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2012

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Telling stories after a loved one’s death helps surviving family members to find meaning in the experience and share perceptions about whether the death was consistent with the deceased person’s values and preferences. Opportunities for physicians to evaluate the experience of a patient’s death and to expose the ethical concerns that care for the dying often raises are rare. Narrative medicine is a theoretical perspective that provides tools to extend the benefits of storytelling and narrative sense–making to physicians. This case study describes narrative writing workshops attended by physicians who care for dying patients. The narratives created revealed the physicians’ concerns about ethics and their emotional connection with patients. This case study demonstrates that even one–time reflective writing workshops might create important opportunities for physicians to evaluate their experiences with dying patients and families.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, v. 2, issue 1, p. 65-72