Mourning My Patient, Mr Schwartz

Ruth Kannai, Aya Rice Alon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The story depicts my close relationship with Mr Schwartz, an elderly Holocaust survivor, spanning over 20 years. During those years, he became a significant patient to me; during my many home visits, we often shared significant conversations about life. When Mr Schwartz was diagnosed at age 90 with advanced cancer, we made an alliance whereby I would represent him in his decision not to receive medical interventions. For the next 4 years until his death, Mr Schwartz pleaded with me to kill him, which I could not do either legally or morally.Over the years; I was moved by his honesty, frustrated at my inability to offer him relief or a sense of meaning, and pensive, as I would inevitably reflect on existential issues pertaining to myself and my dear ones. Mourning his loss was complex, for I was very close to him, yet not a part of his family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-462
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of Family Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021


  • advance care planning
  • doctor-patient relationship
  • palliative care
  • physician narrative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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