Navigating the Holidays Through a Pandemic and Loss


Navigating Holidays Through a Pandemic

With the holiday season quickly approaching and the pandemic infection rates on the rise, celebrating with loved ones can become a large issue. Beyond the usual holiday season stress, we now also have to figure out how to celebrate safely. Navigating how to celebrate our holiday season, although important, isn’t the only difficulty we are facing. For those who have lost a loved one this year, your first Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa without them will prove to be exceptionally difficult. The Rampage is here to help you find your way through safe celebrations and coping with a holiday without a family member or friend.  

  • What are some concerns this holiday season?
    • Large Gatherings: For most families, having everyone over and enjoying a holiday feast is a yearly tradition, but having a large group of people from different households shows an increasing risk. The CDC says that even with social distancing, talking to someone for even 15 minutes increases the risk of contracting Covid-19. 
    • Traveling: Traveling between states isn’t uncommon for family gatherings, especially during the holidays, but it imposes large risks. Airports are among one of the highest ranked locations in which you are most likely to contract the virus, especially longer flights.
    • Dinner Time: What is a holiday celebration without a feast? Despite the necessity of a holiday dinner, when celebrating with people outside of your household it can be a danger. You have to take off a mask to eat, so how do we safely have a family dinner?
  • Some Solutions
    • Celebrating Outside: Old habits die hard and family traditions are no exception. If your celebration must have a large gathering- consider holding it outside. The open air allows for circulation to minimize the chance of exposure, and social distancing is easier outdoors. Also, getting tested before arriving at the location helps avoid exposing someone else to the virus!
    • Virtual Meets: Traveling puts yourself and the loved ones you are meeting at high risk of getting Covid-19. There are virtual alternatives to spending the holidays in person with family. Online platforms like Google Meets, Zoom, and Skype are world wide platforms to enjoy time with your loved ones from afar.
    • Social Distancing: Family dinner is arguably the riskiest event of a holiday celebration this year. With everyone’s masks removed and the family talking and laughing, the risk of contracting the virus is exponentially larger. Outside gatherings help to lower the risk, while also providing the means to better social distancing. Sitting at least six feet away from everyone helps to keep all your loved ones safe!

Navigating Holidays Through Loss

This time of the year can be especially hard for those of us who have lost loved ones in the past, lost loved ones around this time of year, or have lost loved ones recently. While everyone around you may be full of joy and celebration, you may be feeling like an odd-one out because you are sad or feeling down. I am here to tell you that this is okay, but I also want to just highlight a few soft reminders that may be able to help those of you out there who struggle during this holiday season.

  • Set Healthy Boundaries: It is super helpful to set boundaries for yourself. This could look like telling yourself that you do not have to attend every single holiday event or tradition if you do not feel comfortable or in the proper space to be present. It may be telling your family or friends that you are not ready/up to doing any holiday activities. Whatever it may be, remember that setting boundaries for yourself is never selfish and can help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed while grieving.
  •  Create New Traditions: If old traditions are constant upsetting reminders or they just do not feel the same because of your loss, rather than being upset doing them, try to come up with new ones. Coming up with new traditions can be a healthy way to move forward and help you feel less in thought about those you are missing during this time.
  • Doing Something Kind for Others: Even when you’re in the midst of grief, you still have something to offer the world. Performing a few acts of kindness can be really good for a grieving person’s spirit. Donate gifts to families in need, serve meals at a soup kitchen, or volunteer to help people at a nursing home make holiday crafts if you’re up for it. This may also help you to think less about your losses by keeping your mind occupied!

With all this being said, this year may be very difficult for people to celebrate for many reasons–be it a loss of a loved one, navigating through the pandemic, trying to take proper safety precautions, etc. But against all odds, there are still ways to enjoy this holiday and make it through. We just have to remember that these times and the feelings we have are not permanent! Having some hope and having just a bit of optimism is all you will need and we will get through this together. So, stay strong and better times will come.

  • Sources: