COVID-19-related cancellations can trigger feelings of grief, expert says


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With COVID-19 forcing cancellations of weddings, graduations, parties and special events, many are looking toward the future.

Missing these milestones can actually trigger feelings of grief, according to a mental health expert.

“We’ve lost freedoms, and predictable future, and the lives and roles we left behind prior to COVID-19 happening,” said therapist Bonnie Tronzo.

Tronzo, owner of Reflections Counseling in Cary, says people are experiencing grief, which is normal to experience grief when opportunities are missed that time and energy was put into.

“Everyone is feeling this, from the little kids who are missing preschool, to college kids who are missing school, adults who are missing work,” she said.

She says the uncertainty of when the pandemic will end, adds to peoples’ stress and anxiety.

Bride-to-be Kaitlin Butler postponed her May wedding in Pinehurst due to COVID-19 with plans to tie the knot in August.

“Around mid-March we realized this is definitely bigger than us right now, there is more going on in the world and let’s put our wedding aside,” said Butler.

However, as cases of COVID19 continue to rise, she worries the wedding will have to be postponed again.

“It’s something that is weighing on me in the back of my head, probably at all times,” Butler said.  “It is hard now going through the possibility in your head to do all of this a third time, but we know somethings we can’t control.”

Tronzo says letting go of expectations is one of the keys to coping during the pandemic. 

She says some coping skills, like staying busy, are made more difficult with social distancing, and travel restrictions in place. 

Tronzo suggests taking a drive, or setting up a Zoom call with friends, and finding ways to honor missed milestones.

“You have to go week to week, day to day, find something that you can look forward too. Put something on your schedule that you can count down to and know that you can make it happen,” she said.

Tronzo says it’s helpful to find one thing to be grateful for, and remember the pandemic is only temporary. 

Something Butler is keeping in mind.

“No matter what it will come.  The day will come,” she said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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