Chapter 3: When more help is needed

When a colleague dies

The grief expert says
Dr. Chris MacKinnon explains the challenges inherent when a member of our work family dies. (3:22)Video transcript

To describe the death of a colleague as difficult may be an understatement. You likely spend many of your waking hours at work and more time with colleagues than with family. As a result, deep and meaningful attachments are often formed with colleagues who become trusted friends. Conversely, some collegial relationships are fraught with tension and carry a turbulent history. 

The world of paramedicine is a small one. The death of a paramedic from another team, a former colleague, or a paramedic from another province will also frequently have an impact.

Regardless of the nature of the relationship, the death of a colleague usually creates a major disruption. The context of the death often influences the nature of the grief. For instance, when a young paramedic dies after a protracted illness such as cancer, it can be very discouraging for a team who loses a part of their future. The death of a mentor, partner or member of your paramedic family or extended family can have an impact similar to the loss of a blood relative. In certain rare circumstances, the death of a colleague can be so devastating some individuals will leave the profession.