1. Powell, Suzanne K. RN, MBA, CCM, CPHQ


The year 2020 was a time of uncertainties and unpredictability. In this issue of Professional Case Management Journal, 2 articles discuss the issues of prolonged grief, complicated grief, and self-care.


Article Content

As I write this Editorial at the end of October 2020, I reflect on how no one could have known a year ago, what 2020 would bring. The swift changes health care has had to make in an ever-changing and dramatic world have been unprecedented. Professional Case Management Journal has published important, timely articles on COVID-19 and continues to do so. These articles are also free online even before the issue goes to print. See Reference list for Part I and Part II articles by Dr. Tahan (Tahan (2020a, 2020b).


This continues in the current issue with two important COVID-19 articles.


The article on death and grieving during the COVID-19 pandemic (Holland et al., 2021) brings to light the profound changes of 2020, even in death rituals. Yes, case managers have always had to cope with patient deaths, the grieving process of loved ones, and the sequela of the remains, but this is very different. Safety precautions add to the already tangible pain the loved ones go through, and many times interfere with "normal" burial customs, or even being present with a dying loved one.


Grief for the remaining loved ones may demonstrate different nuances than before, whether it be prolonged grief or complicated grief (Holland et al., 2021). Like everything else about COVID-19, case managers will adapt and learn new techniques to assist.


The psychological impact of COVID-19 is insidious and collective, as so well laid out in another of this month's articles (Baker et al., 2021). Amid great uncertainty and unknowns, case managers are constantly dealing with these issues-on top of the unpredictability of the physical trajectories; this can stress even the most resilient of case managers among us.


Technology has been both a blessing and a challenge during these changes. Case managers have had to teach technology even while learning it! But this is not something we aren't used to: after all case management was learned by many of us "on the fly!"


This second article also speaks to another very important process to remember: self-care. Unless we take care of ourselves, there is little left for our patients. This has never been more urgent for health care staff.


The Francis Bacon quote at the beginning of this Editorial rings true to what science has been experiencing during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Those who were "certain" at first often ended with doubts. And sometimes, both certain and uncertain ideas traversed back around to become "the gold standard" (at least for while). Back in the 1500s-1600s, Francis Bacon discovered and popularized the scientific method, whereby the laws of science were discovered by gathering and analyzing data from experiments and observations, rather than by using logic-based arguments. Our limiting factor during 2020 was time; people were getting sick and dying and "something" had to be tried, even if we did not have all the facts. I believe when science dissects 2020, it will show that humanity was doing the best it could with all the unknowns. I know case managers certainly were.


I will tell you a little secret. When I was writing my first case management book in the late 1980s, I was uncertain if case management was a health care fad with the life span of maybe 5 years, or something that would be of service to our patients for decades. Either way, I believed that the process we were building was both valid and necessary. And 30 years later, during our response to COVID-19, during our resiliency, our dedication, our resolve, and our flexibility, I realized that the "stuff" that case managers are made of will endure: with empathy and compassion. Be very proud and thank you.




Baker M., Nelson S., Krsnak J.. (2021). Case management on the front lines of COVID 19: The importance of the Individualized Care Plan across care settings. Professional Case Management Journal, 26(2), 62-69. [Context Link]


Holland D. E., Vanderboom C. E., Dose A. M., Moore D., Robinson K. V., Wild E., Stiles C., Ingram C., Mandrekar J., Borah B., Taylor E., Griffin J. M. (2021). Death and grieving for family caregivers of loved ones with life limiting illnesses in the era of COVID-19: Considerations for case managers. Professional Case Management, 26(2), 53-61.[Context Link]


Tahan H. M. (2020a). Essential case management practices amidst the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Part I: Tele case management, surge capacity, discharge planning, and transitions of care. Professional Case Management, 25(5), 248-266.[Context Link]


Tahan H. M. (2020b). Essential case management practices amidst the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Part II: End of life care, workers' compensation case management, legal and ethical obligations, remote practice, and resilience. Professional Case Management, 25(5), 267-284.[Context Link]


case management; complicated grief; COVID-19; prolonged grief