Coping With Grief and Loss Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The ideas and viewpoints expressed in the posts on the Ideas and Creations blog are solely the view of the author(s). Luther College's mission statement calls us to "embrace diversity and challenge one another to learn in community," and to be "enlivened and transformed by encounters with one another, by the exchange of ideas, and by the life of faith and learning." Alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the college are encouraged to express their views, model "good disagreement" and engage in respectful dialogue.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our day-to-day lives—including, for students, the college experience. These sudden and unexpected changes can be stressful and anxiety-provoking and may even cause feelings of grief, sometimes referred to as ambiguous loss/grief. Grief is commonly associated with the loss of a loved one, but it can also occur in response to drastic changes to our daily routines and ways of life that bring us feelings of comfort and stability. Many may be grieving the loss of social connection, activities they enjoy, important events and ceremonies, economic security, and feeling in control of their own lives. Below are some ways to support each other, and ourselves, during these difficult times.

Validate Feelings

Validate feelings by acknowledging that it is normal and okay to experience anxiety, sadness, anger, and frustration during this time. Encourage others to give themselves permission to grieve all the losses, big and small, they have experienced during the pandemic. Give yourself the same permission. Acknowledging the grief we are going through allows us to take steps to heal. Sometimes, even the act of acknowledging and naming what one is feeling can help us start to heal.  

Maintain a Routine

Maintain a routine that includes educational, social, and physical activities in each day. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is also important.


Make time in each day for self-care and relaxing activities. Taking a nap, exercising, spending time outdoors, and meditating are just a few of the ways we can take care of ourselves. Take breaks from social media/news. Get creative. Move and stretch.  

Connect with Others

Physical distancing does not mean social distancing. Stay connected with family and friends by engaging in regular phone calls, video calls, and other virtual platforms. Find community to share experience, provide support, or even find gratitude.  

Engage in Hope

Often during times of loss, we look for hope. Between navigating a pandemic, being away from family, the current political environment, social injustice, and racial inequality, it may be hard to find hope. Luther College Counseling Service encourages students to rethink what hope means and to look for hope in smaller ways. Some ways to engage in hope include working toward something, asking for help, knowing there are solutions to problems, and knowing the steps you take today can lead to change or have an impact, and engaging in small acts of kindness, gratitude, and grace toward others.
Luther students having an especially difficult time coping should contact Luther College Counseling Service to set up an appointment by emailing [email protected] or calling (563) 387-1375. A counselor can provide support and help connect students with resources. LCSS is also offering virtual group opportunities that are available for all students. A list of groups being offered can be found on the LCCS website.

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