Worker Wellness in Complicated Times: Grief, Self-Care, and Collective Care

Worker Wellness in Complicated Times: Grief, Self-Care, and Collective Care

Good Grief Care Consultants Premium Workshop Series

Noticing, Naming, and Navigating This New Reality

How are you doing—really? What supports you in this time? What else do you need? What more could your agency be considering as things move forward?

For workers in this sector, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged when agencies were already responding to the complex front lines in the work with HIV, Hep, and Harm Reduction: individual and systemic oppression and marginalization, physical and mental health, homelessness, poverty, violence and racism, etc. Our organizations have sustained their advocacy, care, and support for many years now. It is a tough, resilient sector with dynamic, creative workers. That resilience and creativity serve as a foundation for how we, as individuals and organizations, are managing this new crisis of COVID-19.

However resilient we may be, experiencing a new epidemic can result in increased fear, anxiety, and stress in ourselves and in the communities we serve. Along with overwhelming uncertainty and new behavioural ‘norms’ (e.g. mask-wearing, physical distancing), responses to COVID-19 have changed how we meet our daily needs, how we socially interact, and whether, how, and where we work. Some workers have lost their jobs. Some workers have continued to report to a physical workplace, while others have transitioned to working remotely, and for many, the demands of work have changed or intensified. In addition, we have families to care for, children to attend to, aging parents to be worried about, and our own health issues to manage. The nature of each situation is unique, but undoubtedly some of these changes driven by the pandemic are contributing to increasing levels of psychological and occupational stress.


  • To deepen awareness of the impact of the current COVID-19 epidemic, alongside current losses and challenges in this work—within ourselves as workers, and in our teams and agencies as a whole.
  • To better understand the range of diverse responses to COVID-19 as one aspect of our understanding of complex ongoing grief and loss.
  • To come away with a theoretical framework for multiple loss impact in marginalized communities and community agencies.
  • To investigate current coping strategies and strategies of resilience that emerge when people are faced with ongoing crisis and loss events.
  • To provide examples of effective Impact Debriefing techniques and psychological “First AID Tools” developed for use in emotional distress related to COVID-19 and applicable to a wider range of situations.

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