In addition to the death of our own Tommy Uzzo this week, I was saddened to hear of the loss of Dr. Lorna M. Breeny, an emergency room physician here in our city. The caption of The New York Times article that appeared on Wednesday read: “Top E.R. Doctor Who Treated Virus Patients Dies by Suicide.” The article went on to quote her father: “She tried to do her job…She was truly in the trenches of the front line. Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”
I was struck by all the positive attributes given to her, including her vibrancy, compassion, and that she was “a deeply religious Christian who volunteered at a home for older people once a week.” It was a stark reminder of the mental and emotional tolls associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite all our best efforts, most people I know have experienced a myriad of emotions from day to day, sometimes hour to hour: highs and lows, grief, anger, impatience, frustration, and yes, joys, praise, and thanksgiving. I welcome all transparencies because I know how difficult it is for most of us to acknowledge even the slightest vulnerability.
Today, I want to encourage you to listen. Let your mind, body, and spirit speak to you of how you are doing and what is going on inside. And listen to others as you have opportunity—listen to what is spoken and what is not spoken. Resist the temptation to judge, and offer the gift of an empathic heart where you take on their pain as well as joys as if they were your own.
And if you find yourself growing faint or suspect that someone else is in trouble, seek out help. Reach out to Isaiah or me and we will join you in finding the support that is needed. You are not alone. It might very well be the best work we can do during this time.
Grace and peace,