Cover Image: Grief on the Front Lines

Grief on the Front Lines

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Member Reviews

Grief on the Front Lines hits on some very important and timely topics in healthcare, such as the need for increased mental health support for staff and the critical shortage of nurses on the heels of a global pandemic that left many, many workers burned out. 

I was initially confused by the book’s approach, which is to tell stories through interview excerpts with various front-line healthcare workers. Then I noticed that the subtitle changed prior to publication, making this a bit clearer to prospective readers. Nevertheless, I found it difficult to get through due to the quickly shifting focus from one interviewee to the next. It felt a bit like reading a very long research paper or article. 

Readers working in healthcare might find some validating information here. The author clearly went to tremendous effort to coordinate so many interviews and during a challenging time to do so. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and North Atlantic Books for the complimentary advance copy of this work. My opinions are my own.
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A book every front line worker should read.  Us “Essential” workers who show up to help others, no matter the weather, health risk, or what’s occurring in our personal lives.  We show up, again and again, even when we need a break.  We expose ourselves to repeat emotional distress, moral dilemmas, and even hostile or dangerous situations.  Yet, we are human … and we too have our limits. This book explores the grief, the trauma, the fatigue, and burnout of compassion.  Learning to address these things instead of ignoring or hiding these emotions. This is essential to our wellbeing…yet so many times it’s looked down upon. The system is broken and it was never more apparent than the pandemic.
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Thank you for the opportunity to review your book. I was only able to read half of it. But what I read is fantastic. I lost my brother on October 7, 2021 to Covid. Unfortunately my grief prevented me from reading the rest. Perhaps later I can read this book and do a proper review.
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Key reading for this moment--and for every moment --and so important that we understand the way health workers cope and live and work. I appreciated this book's unflinching honesty.
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When I picked up Grief on the Front Lines, I expected COVID war stories from medical professionals and useful wisdom on handling grief that I might be able to use in my own healing work. After all, these folks work with death every day, they must be super well trained in all kinds of grief counseling and related skills, right?

What I learned was in fact pretty horrifying. While I knew that the US healthcare system is a mess, I never expected some of the bleak facts and anecdotes that I read in this book. Not only is it common for those working with the dying and their families to have NO training around grief, I learned of a toxic hospital culture that's honestly made me terrified to ever have another surgery, medical professionals bullied into suicide and penalized for seeking any mental health services, and a dwindling workforce that's likely to result in a major crisis very soon even beyond the specific impact of COVID.

There are silver linings, of course. Much of the book focuses on solutions and the way different departments are implementing wellness practices and other measures. There are interesting treatments of special topics, as well, including medical aid in dying and palliative care. But my biggest takeaway is that the entire industry is a ticking time bomb, with marginalized providers and patients of course most affected. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with the ability to shape policy, and at the same time I am disheartened that change simply may not be possible in a capitalist context.

The cult of growth Eisenstein lays out in Sacred Economics shows up here in hospitals focused mainly on profits and in medical training that encourages doctors to prolong life by any means necessary. When the goal is triumph over nature, of course, we all lose. People die. Trying to change or delay that fact is not only futile—it's poisoning quality of life for patients and providers alike. This book is a potent reminder that care and capitalism do not mix.

[Additional crossposts forthcoming.]
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