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 possibly 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

A co-worker's death will likely have a significant impact on us and our team. We spend many of our waking hours with colleagues. As a result, deep and meaningful attachments are often formed.  A co-worker's death may remind us of our own vulnerability and mortality. We may also feel angry and upset that they were exposed to the virus while caring for others. We might also feel an even greater sense of vulnerability for ourselves and our other colleagues.

If there is an opportunity to come together to support one another and develop coping strategies, this can bring your team together in new ways. This kind of gathering may not be possible at the moment but can be planned for the future.