April 1, 2021
Coping with Traumatic Event Anniversary Emotions
Helka Casey, MSEd, LPCC-S, Employee Assistance Program

Over the past month, and I venture to say over the next few months, staff have and will continue to express thoughts and feelings of uncertainty, report emotional/physical reactions, and express grief in regards to the pandemic anniversary. National COVID-19 Day was on March 11, 2021, marking the one-year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. But through next year (March 11, 2022), we’ll continue to experience anniversaries (the first Memorial Day we didn’t celebrate with family or the 4th of July celebration that was cancelled).

This year is complicated as we are still in the pandemic. You may experience an increase of stress around anniversaries of traumatic events which is referred to as anniversary reactions; reactions can range from feeling mildly upset for a short period of time or a more extreme mental health difficulties or physical health symptoms.¹ Going through this process with some added grace and gratitude will aid in guiding you through anniversary reactions and reconstruction.² Give yourself the patience and permission to just be and appreciate life’s experiences both pleasant and unpleasant. Make efforts to connect more with family and friends, honoring your experiences, and engaging in regular self-care activities which can support you in coping with anniversary reactions. I found these two articles from msn.com and Psychology Today useful in outlining additional coping strategies to manage anniversary reactions of the pandemic.

If you prefer a more personalized approach to learn to cope, you may wish to use your Ohio State Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counseling benefit. Contact the EAP at 800-678-6265 or eap@osumc.edu. You can also submit an on line service request for counseling click here and for work life referrals, click here.

¹  PTSD: National Center for PTSD

²  SAMHSA Emotional Phases of Disaster


Image credit: istockphoto.com