A few years back I worked with the refugee crisis in Greece for just one week. I developed short-term secondary PTSD, from working directly with deeply traumatized patients in our clinic. After I returned home, I had insomnia and nightmares; I wept every time I thought of the refugees and I felt helpless. Thankfully that lasted a little less than one year. The symptoms I was experiencing were a result of only five days of working with this patient population. Five intense days.
Since COvid-19 appeared in our communities, the magnitude of the emotional and psychological trauma that has impacted our front line workers is hard to fathom. It has caused and will continue to result in PTSD, for likely many years to come. It has at its worst, already caused suicides among our fellow heroes.
As a physician with an interest in end-of-life work and a trained death doula, I recently partnered with Nathalie M Bonafe,. Together we have hosted several free online ZOOM Death Cafes for healthcare workers. The feedback has been wonderful so far, and I'm expanding the efforts to reach even more people around the U.S. and outside.
The purpose of the Death Cafe is to provide a platform where people can be heard and unload, so that proper processing can take place. It is group-led and agenda-free. I am not a therapist, but simply a person who can relate. I understand grief, death and dying and can very comfortably sit with it. I hope to help alleviate some of the load by holding space for those on the front lines, in a safe, non-judgemental environment. So bring your favorite cup of coffee/tea and join me and fellow healthcare workers, in inspiring, uplifting, life-affirming conversation from the comfort of your own place.