Living with the Reality: How Medical Examiners Maintain Normalcy Amidst Harrowing Realities

Medical examiners, also known as forensic pathologists, are often confronted with the harsh realities of life and death. Their work involves performing autopsies and determining the cause of death, often in cases of sudden, unexplained, or violent deaths. This can be a challenging and emotionally taxing profession, dealing with the stark reality of mortality on a daily basis. Yet, these professionals manage to maintain a sense of normalcy in their personal lives. How do they achieve this balance? Let’s delve into the world of medical examiners and explore how they cope with the harrowing realities of their profession.

Understanding the Role

Medical examiners play a crucial role in the justice system. They provide vital information that can help solve crimes, identify unknown deceased individuals, and even prevent future deaths by identifying public health threats. Their work is not just about death, but also about seeking truth and justice. This sense of purpose can help them cope with the grim aspects of their job.

Professional Detachment

One of the key strategies medical examiners use to cope with their work is professional detachment. This involves viewing the bodies they work on as medical cases rather than individuals. This clinical approach allows them to focus on the scientific aspects of their work, rather than the emotional implications.

Support Systems

Having a strong support system is crucial for medical examiners. This can include colleagues who understand the unique challenges of the job, as well as friends and family who provide emotional support. Many medical examiners also find it helpful to speak with a therapist or counselor.


Self-care is another important aspect of coping for medical examiners. This can involve regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and hobbies that provide a break from work. Some medical examiners also find mindfulness practices, such as meditation or yoga, to be beneficial.

Education and Training

Medical examiners undergo extensive education and training, which prepares them for the realities of their job. This includes learning about the psychological aspects of dealing with death and developing strategies for coping with stress and trauma.


While the job of a medical examiner can be challenging and emotionally taxing, these professionals have developed strategies to cope with the realities of their work. By maintaining professional detachment, having a strong support system, practicing self-care, and leveraging their education and training, they are able to perform their important role while maintaining a sense of normalcy in their personal lives.