Working with COVID-19 Patients?
Posted on 16th July 2020 at 14:23
If you work in a hospital or care home and have been risking your health to care for COVID-19 patients, enormous heartfelt thanks to each one of you.
We can’t imagine what the past few months have been like, what you’ve been witnessing, especially if you’re one of the last people to be with someone as they die, or you’re the one informing families of their relative’s decline and death over the phone.
You may have had to switch hospital department at the start of the crisis to work on the COVID ward, entering unchartered waters, working with an unfamiliar team, having to hit the ground running. You may have since gone back to your own department and you’re now trying to catch up on appointments without time to breathe and digest what you’ve just been through. Care home staff may have witnessed large numbers of their residents die from this awful disease.
What More Could I Have Done?
You may have developed relationships with patients and perhaps their families, too. You may have wondered what more you could have done, or have felt guilty for feeling sad and tired, because you haven’t suffered a direct loss and you’re healthy.
This blog is to acknowledge your losses. Your loss of normal, safety, and routine. The past few months may not have hit you yet, you may not have had a minute to process it.
Everyone Is Grieving Differently To You
We’ve all been grieving the loss of our normal life, others are grieving the loss of their relatives, the loss of pets, the breakdown of a relationship, the loss of health, or their career. All the above experiences are real grief. However, everyone is grieving differently to you.
When you compare one grief to another, it automatically robs dignity from the person who’s made to feel as if their loss isn’t as big, for whatever reason. It also takes away from the fact that all grief is experienced at 100%. There is no hierarchy of grief. Since all relationships are unique, so is each person’s grief. Still, the fact that all grief is experienced at 100% doesn’t mean that all grief is experienced at the same level of emotional intensity.
Are You Experiencing STERBS?
When loss becomes stuck, we can create Short-Term Energy-Relieving Behaviours, or STERBS. Have you been hiding or burying your feelings under food or alcohol? Other common short-term energy relievers are exercise, fantasy (films, books), isolation, online shopping, throwing yourself into work, cleaning, gaming… While these actions aren’t harmful in themselves, they can become harmful if you ‘keep busy’ with them for the long term, as they’re distracting you from dealing with how you’re really feeling.
Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind. Therefore, the feelings you are having are also normal and natural for you.
Taking Care of Your Feelings
What can you do to take care of your feelings?
Take care of your basic needs. Sleep, eat and exercise
Keep to a routine
Don’t replace your feelings of loss with excess alcohol, cigarettes, or food, as this is likely to lead to you feeling worse in the longer term
Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling and talk to someone who will listen without judging or interruption
Read our free Living Through Lockdown ebook for more ways to take care of yourself
If you would like to talk to a Grief Recovery Specialist who will be able to listen to your concerns, we have several Specialists with a background in Health Care, please get in touch on 01234 862218 or contact us here.
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