The first day Bianca Paraison spent caring for COVID-19 patients was a hard one.

“I wanted to cry the whole day,” she said.

Paraison has been a registered nurse at Tufts Medical Center for 12 years. In that time, she’s seen a lot of trauma patients. But caring for people who had contracted the novel coronavirus felt different. It had her thinking back to the Boston Marathon bombing. She’d cared for patients in the bombing's aftermath, when the city was on lockdown as authorities searched for the brothers who were responsible. She remembers that time as fraught with the fear and a sense of fragility.

“There's a lot of similarities,” Paraison said. “COVID has really ruined people's sense of security and safety and [shown] how vulnerable we really are and how quickly things can change.”

As the number of new coronavirus infections in Massachusetts has declined and the state has begun to reopen, many frontline healthcare workers are pausing to reflect on the crisis and their own mental health. Like Paraison, some are drawing parallels to — and lessons from — April 15, 2013.

For Paraison, the lasting lesson she takes away from that tragedy is a positive one. The bombing taught her that healthcare workers can deal with anything that comes their way.

“When COVID first emerged, we learned a lot about people running out of equipment and not having ventilators and not having staff,” she said. “I remembered the time of the Marathon bombing. And I thought, ‘We had three minutes to get ready for that, and we handled it and we had an excellent success rate. We had very few casualties.’”

And in this pandemic, she said, frontline workers in Boston have again risen to the occasion.

Others who were in the midst of the Marathon bombing have taken away different lessons.

Bobby O’Donnell was running the marathon when, in the last half mile, he heard the explosions. His family was at the finish line. For a frightening few hours, he couldn’t find any of them.

In the end, they were all fine. Still, for years, O’Donnell struggled.

“'What right, really, do I have to be depressed or become anxious or develop PTSD?'” O’Donnell remembered thinking to himself. “I was ashamed to admit or say anything because other people have suffered so much more than me.”

He said that mentality was “really damaging” and delayed his realization that he had PTSD. Now, he has written a book about the experience and is a part-time critical care paramedic working on an ambulance in New Hampshire. As he works through the pandemic, he said, he keeps thinking back to the Marathon bombing and how hard it was for him to recognize his own trauma.

He worries about healthcare workers being called heroes.

“When you call someone a hero, it puts them on a pedestal,” he said. “It doesn’t allow them to be vulnerable.”

He said he’d prefer messaging urging people to check in on frontline workers and see how they’re doing, rather than simply praising them.

Darshan Mehta thinks a lot about checking in on healthcare workers. He’s a doctor who runs the office in charge of faculty well-being at Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.

He said this crisis has brought into focus the burnout many healthcare professionals experience, and the unrelenting stress they often face.

“There is still a lot of stigma for healthcare providers to get their own help,” he said. “But, if there were a silver lining in this [pandemic], it is that we have more freedom to express these needs now more than ever.”

He said healthcare leaders during this crisis have been much more willing to talk about the mental health issues many healthcare workers face — including depression and anxiety — and some are even seeking help themselves. He said his office has seen a significant uptick in the number of hospital employees requesting services such as debriefing groups and peer support.

Unlike the Marathon bombing, Mehta said, the pandemic is a prolonged crisis that has halted many of the social interactions and support networks that can mitigate certain mental health challenges.

“We haven’t yet even begun to think of what effect that has had on our society, because we’re very social creatures by definition,” he said.

But just like the bombing, Mehta said, the coronavirus pandemic will surely leave its mark on the commonwealth for years to come.