November 20, 2020
Grief, COVID-19 and the Holidays
Suzanne Vickers, LISW-S; Ohio State Employee Assistance Program

With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, we face very difficult decisions with the upcoming holidays. Social distancing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19, and yet the holidays are usually a time of gathering with loved ones—times when we get together with friends and loved ones to eat, celebrate and exchange gifts. Grieving is a natural response to missing out on celebrating with those we love. It can be hard to deal with the emotional response and potential isolation when choosing to cancel these events.

Holidays are also a time of experiencing the anniversaries of those we have lost. It’s important to acknowledge these losses and the loss of normalcy. It’s equally important to take care of yourself, be gentle, and accept how you are feeling. You may feel angry, anxious, frustrated or sad; your feelings might shift from day to day. It can be helpful to talk about how you are feeling with a trusted friend or family member. Also, if you are adjusting your plans due to the pandemic, find ways to honor holiday traditions anyway. Use your creativity to connect with others: send cards, have a zoom celebration, do a drive by gift exchange, attend an online religious service “together” and discuss afterward. 

What is right for you may not be right for another family member or friend. Give yourself permission to say “no” to an invitation if it doesn’t feel right for you. If you are feeling grief, it’s important to rest more, not isolate, and do self-care activities as well as stick to a routine and make sure to sleep and eat at regular times.

If you need more support, reach out to the Employee Assistance Program. Visit the EAP website to make an online request or call us at 800-678-6265 to speak with an intake counselor.


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