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The Holidays During COVID

We are heading into the holidays in what might be one of the most challenging years for the country as a whole. This year we have the unique task of balancing “normal” holiday stressors while managing life in a global pandemic. I have found myself having numerous discussions with clients about how to navigate the holidays this year when the annual rituals and routines are not safe and/or possible. I have noticed a common theme in all of these conversations: there is a grief process happening. Grief is a natural reaction to loss.

For the better part of this year we have had to let go of certain things we enjoy in order to protect ourselves and others. The holidays will be no different and for some this might feel even more disheartening. The holidays can be about gathering with loved ones, traveling, going to see a special performance, etc., all of which may not be possible. It is natural to feel anger, frustration, disappointment, and a sense of loss about not getting to do the things we love and look forward to all year long. As we know with grief, there is no “right way” to grieve. I encourage you to explore these feelings and to find a healthy outlet to express them. This could be talking to family, friends, or a therapist. It could mean journaling your thoughts and feelings. It could mean joining a virtual support group.

In addition to identifying and processing how you feel, I encourage you to find new and creative ways to achieve your holiday cheer. It may look different from years prior but it doesn’t have to be less meaningful or special. This could mean sharing virtual meals, simultaneously watching a holiday movie while chatting online, making and sending videos, sending food to loved ones, and much, much more. If nothing else, 2020 has taught us to be resilient. Let’s put that resiliency to the test and create joy where we can.


I would be remiss if I didn’t include how to stay safe during the holidays. The good news is it is quite simple, just follow the 3 W’s:

Wear a mask when you are out in public and when you are indoors with people who are not part of your immediate household. The only exception is while eating or drinking!

Watch your distance, staying at least 6 feet away from people who are not part of your immediate household.

Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. (source: NIH Director’s Blog)

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