The grief expert says
Dr. Ken Doka, an international grief expert, explains the powerful bonds of taking care of someone and the need to have tools to both experience and contain grief. (3:22)Video transcript
The paramedic says
Nick describes his approach to handling emotionally difficult calls.(3:22)Video transcript

I want to save lives. I want to help people.- Canadian paramedic


As a paramedic, you do honourable work in service to others. You’re there for people at some of the most difficult and stressful times of life. You’re called to medical crises where people feel powerless and vulnerable.

You’ll encounter life and death situations in varying circumstances throughout your career: the motor vehicle accident with multiple traumas; the workplace accident; the young mom who had a heart attack while jogging; the suspected overdose; the teen who swam out too far; the mugging that went horribly wrong; and the young father with metastatic cancer who wanted to die at home with his kids nearby. In many cases, you’re trying to protect and preserve life. You use your clinical skills, ability to think on your feet, and your compassion to achieve the best possible outcome for patients.

End-of-life situations require a shift in focus from preserving life to providing comfort to patient and family. These calls can count amongst the most demanding and rewarding aspects of paramedic practice. There can be considerable satisfaction in knowing you’ve made a difference at one of the most painful times of life. These rewards, however, may come with some measure of personal cost in the form of work-related grief. This is common to all health care providers.   

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify common grief reactions in the context of being a health care provider and experiencing work-related grief.

  2. Reflect upon your own experiences with grief and identify personal strategies that have worked in the past or could be integrated into future practice.

  3. Summarize strategies for responding constructively to work-related grief and monitoring your mental health.

  4. Identify additional contextual factors relevant to grieving the death of a colleague.

  5. Describe observable behaviours that may suggest additional support may be needed.