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How to Deal With the Loss of a Patient

How to Deal With the Loss of a Patient

This past year has been HARD! COVID has brought out so many feelings, but for our front-line workers it may have come in the form of strength, shock, encouragement, growth and, most unfortunately, loss. While loss may not be new, it has felt like there has been so much more of it this year and this may be getting harder to deal with. Here are some tips for dealing with the loss of a patient.

Practice Self-care

Grief affects the body physically, so it’s important to care for yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat healthy. Engaging in meditation, deep breathing, and journaling are additional ways to practice self-care. Practicing self-care at least 30 minutes a day can drastically improve your overall wellbeing. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Talk to a grief counselor, supervisor, colleague, or friend
In addition to taking care of yourself physically, during times of stress, it’s also important to care for yourself emotionally. Make sure that you are meeting regularly with a counselor to help develop and strengthen coping skills so that you can work through these challenging times in a healthy way. Another great way is sharing stories and feelings with trusted colleagues or friends can help with the grief process. Being able to discuss how you are feeling about your experience with those who have been through it with you has benefits.

It’s OK to not have the right words
In this situation, you may not have the right words or any words at all and that’s OK. Being present with your patient and their loved ones while accommodating them and their needs is more than sufficient. In many situations, the best way to help is to lend a listening ear. Sometimes individuals simply need a person to hear what they have on their mind. You can also help by allowing family adequate time for grieving, extended visitation, extra tissue/water, and facilitating communication between patient, family & their care team. 

Heal however you can
Every person and situation are different, and there is no one approach to dealing with death. We all must take time to process the experience in our own way. It may take weeks, or it may take months, but we must remain resilient. What works for others may not work for you. Finding what helps you heal may be a long and challenging road, but the benefits of working through grief far outweigh the costs of putting it on the back burner.

If you are feeling like you need someone to talk to, BRG has several confidential resources available to you.