In April 2020, someone in my life died of COVID-19 in a hospital in the Detroit area. She was in her 80s, lived her life for her family, and did not have any of them with her when she died. After entering the Emergency Department without her husband because of COVID-19 restrictions, she was treated for a week or more for a non-COVID-19 related medical condition. After surgery and time in recovery, she developed a pneumonia that was the result of contracting COVID-19, likely in the hospital. Her husband of over 60 years got telephone reports on her condition and eventually took the call that she died.
This death has left me completely undone. The thought of my loved one dying in the hospital without the family she held so dear haunts me. It brings tears to my eyes if I let my mind go to this scenario. I’ve been on the verge of tears weekly and more recently, several times a day although her death took place over a year ago.
Recently, in my role in a health system, I had the opportunity to listen to the experience of nurses who worked in the COVID-19 units during the height of the 2020 pandemic. One nurse shared that the greatest trauma for her is that families didn’t see how hard they worked, how much they cared, and how deeply they cried. This has left the care teams looking for connection and resolution with families of individuals who died of COVID-19.
Through counseling, I was able to connect what I wanted most for my loved one and what the care team felt they gave. I have a new sense of peace and I hope that those who were unable to be present with a loved one will find ways to connect with the loving compassion of the health care teams that have been working so hard.
Three things to learn about this week:
- CDC COVID Tracker – the pandemic is still killing people, keep yourself knowledgeable
- Experience of Nurses During the COVID-19 Pandemic – learn about the trauma nurses experienced
- Managing Grief and Loss During COVID-19 – learn about the complexities of grief and loss during COVID-19