Grief on the Front Lines
Reckoning with Trauma, Grief, and Humanity in Modern Medicine
by Rachel Jones
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 17 May 2022 | Archive Date 12 Mar 2022
Practicing medicine is traumatic: coping with the death of a patient, sharing a life-changing diagnosis, grieving futility in the face of a no-win situation. The emotional burden placed on doctors, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners is profound...and yet their suffering is often displaced, dismissed, or unrecognized.
Here, Rachel Jones breaks the silence, daring to imagine a future where every healthcare worker is provided with the right tools to process grief, the space to integrate trauma, and--most importantly--the knowledge that they’re not alone. Drawing from the latest research and more than 100 interviews with healthcare professionals across different specialties, backgrounds, and institutions, Jones identifies how US medicine fails its workers--and how it can do better.
Speaking with urgency about the systemic shortcomings that contribute to widespread depression, burnout, suicide, and PTSD among physicians and nurses--a culture of stoicism, the pressure of 80-hour workweeks--Grief on the Front Lines shares the stories of everyday healthcare heroes and offers a glimpse into the educational programs, retreats, therapeutic offerings, and peer support networks already building a hopeful new culture of medicine that cares for its own.
Rachel Jones’s book, birthed during the pandemic of the century, is filled with painful truths about the American healthcare system that sound the clarion call for change. — Jessica Zitter, MD, author of Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life
Urgent, powerful, healing. Nurses and doctors should read this book, but hospital administrators most of all. US healthcare has reached a crisis point where those who care for others need care themselves to recover from epidemic levels of burnout. Grief on the Front Lines shows how that caring work can and must be done. — Theresa Brown, PhD, RN, author of The New York Times bestseller The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives
Grief on the Front Lines is a clarion call for a more compassionate approach to medicine—not only for our patients, but for ourselves as medical professionals. Rachel Jones succeeds in her attempt to “fill the void” in challenging the medical establishment to acknowledge the grief we experience by routinely facing “the reality of death and dying” and to create a more humane working environment, strengthen necessary support systems, and remove barriers to mental health services. She explores innovative approaches to addressing the most common causes of grief and distress, while acknowledging the limits of self-care. Grief on the Front Lines inspires a vigorous response to the needs of an overextended and downtrodden healthcare workforce, particularly as we emerge from a devastating global pandemic.
— Anthony Mazzarelli, MD, co-CEO of Cooper University Health Care and co-author of Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence That Caring Makes a Difference
Honoring the experiences and attendant grief of healthcare workers, Rachel Jones provides well-sourced documentation of the events of the pandemic and provides a call to action to bring a more compassionate healthcare system into being.
— Rana Awdish, MD, author of In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope
Grief on the Front Lines could be called The Real Story Behind Healthcare. Rachel Jones makes great effort to weave this story in which healthcare providers often become molded by the suffering they have been inspired to try to palliate or cure. She relies on research and personal narratives to place a human face on those called to serve others. This story is a call to action to ensure that we heal while healing others. May this book serve to inspire healing and reveal that we are never alone in the struggle. It’s not only important to Pause at death, but also to Pause in the pursuit of healing and life. — JONATHAN BARTELS, RN, innovator of the Medical Pause
In Grief on the Front Lines Rachel Jones takes us into the lives of the remarkable men and women who stand with us at times of loss and death and brings their own pain to life. A harrowing and unforgettable book.
— Michael Shapiro, Professor of Journalism, Columbia University
Rachel Jones has made an invaluable contribution to the literature on trauma and loss. Grief on the Front Lines is a devastating account of the heavy emotional burden placed on healthcare workers and a powerful indictment of a system that fails to care for its own. Passionately researched and rendered with eloquence and humanity, Jones’s book reminds us that healers also need to heal—in today’s world more than ever—and that empathy and connectedness are the surest balms for a grieving heart. — Alex Stone, author of Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks & the Hidden Powers of the Mind
Frontline healthcare workers have always been expected to balance their personal lives with the emotional realities of comforting those facing life-threatening illness. Most providers in hospitals, from emergency rooms to intensive care units and nursing homes, face an onslaught of unrelenting suffering and death which today has become even more tragic in the presence of infectious disease. Very few can bear the massive burden of grief and trauma without life-changing consequences.
Grief on the Front Lines takes the reader through a sobering journey of the overwhelming conditions so many of these special people face dozens of times each day. For the rest of us, placing hearts of thanks on front lawns, and banging pots and pans every night in praise of these tireless individuals, is a powerful way to express our gratitude. Here is a superb overview of the state of palliative care that belongs on your “must read” list to really understand the experience of these heroes. It ultimately will support readers to become more empathic. The inescapable fact is that secondary trauma and crippling grief breaks hearts; with time and love as healers, tragedies can become fortunate blessings that open us to compassion and loving kindness—the best antidote to the natural experience of loss.
— William Spear, End of Life Educator, Fortunate Blessings Foundation, Second Response Initiative, and Care for the Caregiver Program
Sobering, heartbreaking, and filled with hope, Grief on the Front Lines is a must-read not only for every doctor, administrator, and healthcare worker, but for everyone subject to illness and death. Pulling back the curtain on the avalanche of stress, violence, and grief in the field charged with our well-being, this book brings together revealing personal accounts, latest research, and culture-shifting resources available for those working in the healthcare system. It’s a seed of a new paradigm we cannot afford to miss.
— Vera De Chalambert, MTS, religious scholar, writer, and spiritual storyteller
Healthcare workers often carry deep emotional and spiritual wounds that are not visible and are sometimes left untended. Grief on the Front Lines provides a much-needed exploration of the effects of trauma and grief on the very people we rely on to help us heal. Rachel Jones gently explores these wounds and shares strategies that healthcare workers can employ to support their own healing and give them strength to continue their work. The book highlights a growing movement toward recognizing and addressing the human needs of healthcare workers and ensuring the well-being of these highly committed individuals. With stories ranging from mental health professionals to trauma specialists to hospice providers, compelling accounts of grief and healing offer hope for doctors and other healthcare workers who are struggling with the challenges of the profession.
— Rev. Don Chatfield, PhD, Lead Pastor, All Souls Interfaith Gathering, Shelburne, Vermont
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