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Moral repair: Committing to action

If you’ve experienced a moral injury (i.e., a violation of deeply held morals and values), you may engage in short-term coping behaviours. But while these behaviours lessen the pain for a while, they may keep you stuck if they become frequent habits.

Some examples of these coping behaviours are: 

  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Dropping healthy self-care practices
  • Using substances to numb emotional pain

Moral healing is about reconnecting with your values, especially those that have been broken. To begin healing, you can practise daily value-repair activities. These activities will help you reclaim values violated by a potentially morally injurious event (PMIE). 

Daily repair activities can include:

  • Honouring losses you have experienced during COVID-19
  • Finding meaningful ways to connect with patients or their families 
  • Giving or receiving compassion from others 
  • Engaging in joyful and recharging activities
  • Spiritual practices

Living a value-driven life isn’t always about big gestures. It’s often about how you engage with the world every day. For example, if you care about the environment, you don’t need to quit your job and become a conservationist. Instead, you can choose to do things like bring your own reusable grocery bags to the supermarket.

Living a value-driven life is not about perfection or goals. It’s about repeatedly asking yourself how you want to behave and then being compassionate to yourself whenever you don’t get it right. 

Most healthcare providers describe getting into the field because they wanted to help people. It’s value-driven work. Moral pain experienced during the pandemic is often a result of the violation of that value. 

Some HCPs forget that systemic issues outside of their control also impact patient care. This has become obvious during the pandemic. The strain on the system became so extreme that HCPs could no longer compensate for these problems. As a result, patients suffered. 

It’s important to remember that you can’t fix the system yourself and it’s not your job to compensate for it. Acknowledge all the ways you have cared for patients (even if it wasn’t the best possible version) in difficult circumstances. Offer yourself compassion knowing that you lived through tough moments according to your values. 

As an HCP, you made an honourable choice to spend your life helping people while they are suffering. Sometimes, indeed often, this has come at the cost of your own well-being. 

If someone hasn’t told you today, thank you for all you do. 

We hope this program allows you to move toward a flourishing and vibrant life.