Chapter 3: Grief and COVID-19

Burden of knowledge

"I've seen multiple deaths through this pandemic. When my friend asked how safe I thought her dad was living in long-term care, it was hard not to tell her the truth." - Healthcare aide

Working in healthcare, we have both experience and knowledge about potential risks and outcomes that others will not. This “insider information” can often be a burden. We can’t ‘unknow’ what we already know. We may still be carrying the weight of that knowledge when we head home. 

Implications of healthcare knowledge 

We may: 

  • Feel the burden of not being able to share this knowledge or our work-related experience with our family or friends. 
  • Experience anticipatory grief, the grief experienced before the loss. We may know what lies ahead for the patient; or for a family member or friend, and what it might mean for us.
  • Understand the potentially negative impact of the decisions we are currently making. For example, when in-person visits are limited to the hours before death and we know the patient or resident may be unable to interact or respond.  


With the COVID-19 crisis, you may:

  • Have access to information about the severity of this disease, its impact, and related complications that are not known by the general public.
  • Find yourself grieving the fact that you cannot provide information openly or freely.
  • Be confronted with your own vulnerability and mortality, as well as that of your family members and friends.