The most helpful thing everyone can do right now is offer emotional support to others. Please look around you. No one should be left alone. Everyone needs a buddy to check in, to call, to go for walks, to say, “I care about you,” and ask, “How are you?”
I am deeply concerned about the moral injuries I am seeing as a result of how COVID-19 has been handled in the United States.
What is moral injury?
According to the Moral Injury Project at Syracuse University, “Moral injury is the damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when that person perpetrates, witnesses, or fails to prevent acts that transgress ones own moral beliefs, values, or ethical codes of conduct.”
It is also described as an injury to your soul. We know from veterans of war that moral injuries have deep effects that take a long time to recover from. Moral injuries are devastating on the inside – and are often carried in silence – like a grenade inside it threatens the life of the person who is suffering.
Moral injuries are starting to appear in many people. The symptoms show as a feeling of betrayal, particularly from leaders. Other symptoms are a lack of trust, alienation, hopelessness, highly anxious, burnout, overwhelm, despair, and suicide.
When you are suffering from a moral injury, your pain can be aimed at yourself as shame, failure, and inability to help anyone. You may believe that what you are doing has harmed people.
One of the most helpful things you can do right now is leave no one behind, no one alone, no one carrying the despair and fears from COVID-19 on their own.
Essential workers across all disciplines are dealing with issues of safety, trust, isolation, and fear. You can help by staying in touch with the people in your circle. Grow your circle. Stay checked in. Everyone needs more connection and support in these times. Please keep reaching out. When you ask someone how they are and they say, “fine”, ask again. Let them know you really can be present for them.
If you are suffering from a moral injury, reach out for counseling help. Support is available. You are a valuable person who could not prevent what has happened. This is not your fault.
You deserve care and help. We’ve got you. Please don’t carry the burden of this alone.