1As we continue to practice social distancing and self-isolation from within our homes, as much as our lives allow us to, many of us are watching important dates that we had been excited to celebrate come to pass. Those who were excited to celebrate important milestones with their friends and family, such as weddings, proms, graduations, sports events, holidays, and birthdays, won’t be celebrating exactly as they had hoped. Although we are doing our part by staying safe at home as much as we can, the feelings of disappointment and loss that accompany these missed milestones are valid, and should not be ignored.

Even though these events might not be happening in the same way we expected them to, we can still try to honor these big life events in new and creative ways, while simultaneously being understanding of the grief that comes with making these changes. Here are a few tips for navigating these challenging experiences:

  1. Be gentle with yourself.

When a big event does not happen as expected, it can absolutely cause some emotional and mental distress. Feelings of sadness and disappointment are normal to experience when missing these major milestones. If you’re feeling particularly disappointed in the wake of these, that’s okay. Allow yourself to feel these emotions without trying to brush them off. Commemorative events usually come at the expense of a lot of work, and it is worth acknowledging the what these events meant to you.

  1. Stay connected to your peers.

By staying connected, you can be supportive of those who are having similar experiences. It’s important to be understanding of those who might be experiencing these losses, just as you would yourself. Not only will you be helping another person through a shared experience, but staying present in your network can alleviate some of the negative aspects of self-isolation, such as feelings of anxiety or depression.

Luckily, we live in an age of technology that allows us to stay in contact with each other through a variety of apps and social media. Apps like FaceTime, Houseparty, and Marco Polo are easy and fun ways to stay connected through your phone.

  1. Find creative ways to celebrate!

Just because these events aren’t happening the way you expected them to does not mean that you cannot still celebrate! These milestones are often used as rites of passage within our culture and community that mark an important moment in an individual’s development. Achievements can and should still be celebrated! Regardless of whether it is a virtual Zoom party, a drive-by celebration, or even a planned trip or event to look forward to when it is safe to gather, there are ways to celebrate together during this time.

By Bre Bielecki, Counseling Intern