Rx for Compassion Fatigue

To a doctor, the death (and even impending death) of a patient represents the ultimate professional failure…


But here’s the problem: Experiencing empathy and even compassion becomes exhausting if you don’t have the skills to maintain healthy mental boundaries and take care of your own stress. Those who work with the terminally ill often become numb when their grief, loss and helplessness feel overwhelming and become unproductive.


Compassion fatigue occurs when we try to care for everyone else and neglect our own needs. It happens when we get stuck in “feeling the patient’s pain” and can’t transform that emotional resonance into true compassion. Fortunately, the practice of mindfulness offers an antidote to this particular type of fatigue because it creates the mental conditions for the most powerful remedy available: compassion.


Deborah Schoeberlein
Author, ‘Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness’