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
- 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.