Witnesses and Victims Both: Healthcare Workers and Grief in the Time of COVID-19

Academic Article


  • Heathcare Workers (HCWs) recognize their responsibility to support the bereaved loved ones of our patients, but we also must attend to our own professional and personal grief in the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 grief is occurring in the setting of incomplete grief, disenfranchised grief, fractured US governmental leadership, and evidence of great mistrust, systemic racism, and social injustice. In the intensity and pervasiveness of COVID-19, HCW fears for themselves, their colleagues, and their own loved ones are often in conflict with professional commitments. Even at the dawn of promising national and global vaccination programs, significant HCW morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 has already become clear, will continue to grow, and these effects likely will last far into the future. Given the risks of complicated grief for HCWs in the setting of COVID-19 deaths, individual HCWs must put every effort into their own preparation for these deaths as well as into their own healthy grieving. Equally importantly, our healthcare systems have a primary responsibility both to prepare HCWs and to support them in their anticipatory and realized grief. Special attention must be paid to our HCW trainees, who may have not yet developed personal or professional grief management strategies and are coming into healthcare practice during a time of great disruption to both teaching and clinical care.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rabow MW; Huang CHS; White-Hammond GE; Tucker RO
  • Start Page

  • 647
  • End Page

  • 656
  • Volume

  • 62
  • Issue

  • 3