Dear Students and Loyola Families,
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 crisis a global pandemic. For many of us, the month of March brings with it the reminder of how the pandemic turned our world upside down. This anniversary may bring a range of reactions for many, including grief, disbelief, anger, anxiety, fatigue, overwhelm, depression, or decreased focus and motivation.
After a year of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, many may be wondering why they are having these experiences now. It is important to recognize that dates of painful events can serve as triggers for these types of “anniversary reactions.” This may be especially true for those who have lost loved ones to COVID. In addition, over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has converged with the crisis of racism and inequality, highlighted further by the disproportionate impact of COVID on BIPOC communities and increased hate crimes experienced by Asian communities.
Counseling Center staff have worked with many students who have experienced distress surrounding the anniversary of a traumatic incident or loss. As we navigate the anniversary of the onset of the last year of collective trauma, consider these things that may support us in this wave of grief:
- Remember that anniversary reactions don’t last forever. It can be helpful to lean into our coping strategies, do things that bring us joy, comfort, rest, and help us feel safe in the world around us. Exercise, journal, or meditate.
- Be compassionate with our bodies and minds as they try to process and cope with the painful reminder of what the onset of COVID-19 meant for us and others around us.
- Reach out for support. Share with your support system what you are feeling and know that you are not alone in the process. Your Evergreen, your RA, a campus minister, or a trusted faculty member are all great sources of support.
- Minimize or limit watching of the news, engaging in social media, or other activities that might increase the number of triggers we have to navigate. We should not avoid our emotions, but we don’t have to exacerbate them and leave our minds and bodies feeling more overwhelmed than they already are.
- Work through our emotions. When we experience anniversary reactions or our brain resurfaces painful memories, this is often an indicator that we need to do further processing surrounding the event. Whether it's seeking support through a therapist, journaling, taking time to commemorate the losses, or by some other means, we deserve the space to work with and through these painful memories.
- Seek assistance from professionals in Campus Ministry, ALANA Services, the Women’s Center, and the Counseling Center, who look forward to working with you.
Please utilize some of the following Counseling Center resources available to you:
Counseling: Free, confidential, brief, individual counseling. Group counseling offerings include meditation, RIO mindfulness workshops, Understanding Self and Others, In, Out & In Between, Empower support group for students of color, Solace self-esteem, and others.
Let’s Talk and Let's Connect Now: Sign up for a single session for problem-solving or an affinity-based conversation.
Comprehensive Referral Services
Loyola.edu/Togetherall: Participate in this free online community where members are anonymous to one another and can share how they are feeling and support each other. Togetherall is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
COVID-specific resources: Explore this COVID-19 Resources and Support page or see our COVID-19 Mental Health Survival Guide.
Develop Resilience: Visit Loyola.edu/resilience to learn about our public health resources and tips for strengthening resilience.
Relaxation Online: Visit Loyola.edu/relax
Need emergency support? Call the Counseling Center’s after-hours number: 410-617-5530.
Whether the anniversary of the start of the pandemic is causing you distress, you have been impacted by racial trauma, or you need support or connection for anything else, please know that the Counseling Center offers a range of services to meet the mental health needs of Loyola undergraduate and graduate students, and we are here to assist you.
Jason Parcover, Ph.D.