Chapter 4: Factors that impact grief

Situations at work

“I just didn’t want to believe it when the test result came back positive for one of the nurses on our unit. We were so worried about her, her family, and our own health as well.” – Unit clerk

A positive COVID-19 diagnosis

A confirmed diagnosis of the COVID-19 virus brings multiple and conflicting feelings. We may ‘know’ that this can happen yet feel shocked or even outraged by the intrusion of illness, grief, and the possibility of death. Depending on the care required, we may learn what it’s like to be a ‘patient’ in the face of this new virus with so many unknowns. Our understanding, or lack of understanding, of the diagnosis, treatment options, and prognosis, may mean that we grieve losses or carry fears that friends, and family may not.  

Death of a colleague

As we spend many of our waking hours with colleagues, deep and meaningful attachments are often formed. It is normal for a co-worker's death to have a significant impact on us and our team. It may affect us in many ways:                                                                      

  • remind us of our own and our colleagues vulnerability and mortality                                                                                                    
  • make us upset and angry that they were exposed to the virus while they were caring for others                                                             

Finding ways and opportunities to come together, perhaps through use of texts, and phone calls to support one another can bring the team together in new ways.  Gathering together as a team or at a memorial service may not be possible now, but can be planned for the future.