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How current losses remind us of previous ones

Sharna describes how the death of the patient she felt close to reminded her of her own grandmother's death, and of her last conversations with her.
© Tavistock & Portman NHS FT

It is an important feature of loss and bereavement that the current situation will remind us powerfully of earlier losses. It is as though old wounds can re-open, making the loss harder to bear. But also this can be a chance to continue the work of grieving previous losses, which we may have buried rather than ‘worked through’.

So how do the concepts that we learned about in Week 1 apply to the lives of patients and front-line workers during the pandemic?

In the next three videos, we’ll revisit Sharna, and hear about the impact of the current situation on her role as a Social Worker. We’ll hear how painful it had been to learn of a patient’s death by seeing his name had disappeared from ‘the board’; of how distressed she felt that he may have died alone; of her own distress that she had not been able to say goodbye; and then of her gratitude that she had been able to do this with her grandmother.

Through these accounts of her experiences we can understand more about how working with death and dying is always emotionally complex and testing, but also how, in the midst of the confusion of epidemic circumstances, many other difficult feelings come into play: the guilt and anxiety associated with the experience of ‘moral injury’, the lack of time to process and think about emotional experiences, and the need for time to reflect, which we will revisit in Week 4.

© Tavistock & Portman NHS FT
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Grief, Loss, and Dying During COVID-19

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