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Medicine and Grief During the COVID-19 EraThe Art of Losing

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

In a matter of months, coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has transformed not just how we live but also how we leave this world.1 Physicians and nurses struggle to accompany patients who die alone and support families who cannot follow the usual customs of grief: gathering at hospitals, attending funerals, sitting shiva.2

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Amrapali Maitra, MD, PhD, Department of Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115 (amaitra@bwh.harvard.edu).

Published Online: October 26, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.5635

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Acknowledgements: I thank Amy Ship, MD, and Kham Kidia, MD, for thoughtful input and Jennifer Claytor, MD, for her skillful guidance. None was compensated for their work. I thank my parents for granting permission to share my grandparents’ stories.

References
1.
Ungerleider  S .  Virtual grieving: is there no closure if there is no goodbye?  San Francisco Chronicle. April 14, 2020. Accessed September 24, 2020. https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Virtual-grieving-Is-there-closure-if-there-is-no-15198399.php
2.
Levitz  J , Berger  P .  “I’m sorry I can’t kiss you”—coronavirus victims are dying alone.  Wall Street Journal. April 10, 2020. Accessed September 24, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/im-sorry-i-cant-kiss-youcoronavirus-victims-are-dying-alone-11586534526
3.
Bishop  E . “One Art.” In:  The Complete Poems 1926-1979. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; 1983.
4.
COVID Paper Virtual Funeral Collective.  Death, grief, and funerals in the COVID age.  Updated June 10, 2020. Accessed September 24, 2020. https://www.covidpaper.org/
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