The pandemic has led to a series of losses, from jobs to the lives of loved ones. Many people are confronting the loss of a loved one during this unusual time. Due to COVID-19, the government is inhibiting large gatherings with others to mourn. This situation provokes anxiety, stress, sadness, and is also a time of collective grief. Even people who haven’t lost anything so concrete as a job or a loved one are grieving. People are having to mourn the lives they had before. “People are getting affected in different ways and everything is unknown, and with unknown people are scared and frustrated,” Ms. Fastov, WHS Social Worker, says. “We are definitely in pandemic mode and there’s more mental health problems and less resources.”
Many movements such as Black Lives Matter have also been asking questions about loss. With COVID-19 and the recent social justice protests, we’ve been talking a lot about unnecessary loss. There have been many times where someone passes away now that citizens in the US are more desensitized than ever. It’s hard to see that each number of people who are passing is one individual person. “With anyone passing away at this time, you barely hear about it because no one is truly connected. You have to hear about it from the news or from emails from the school when things happen. It’s just really disheartening and really sad, like you want to be there but you can’t.” Gabriella Lowrey, Senior, says.
A lot of our own wheeling community has unfortunately been dealt a heavy hand of devastating news. Anytime students get emails about another community member passing away, it’s more shattering than ever. It makes the events in the world feel real and puts everything into perspective. “My friend passed away over the summer. He would’ve been a junior this year. I had found out through the news spreading about him at first through a friend, but I was in shock and disbelief. We didn’t talk as much as before because of Coronavirus, so there wasn’t a lot of communication with us so I didn’t know what was happening. In the middle of my vacation, I got an email from the school with confirmation that he passed.” Lowrey says.
Unfortunately, funeral services are limited. This has made it difficult for people to grieve and say goodbye properly. Burying someone was a way closure before, and now people aren’t getting that same closure which can make it very difficult to mourn and move on. “I’ve only had one major loss before the pandemic, which was my grandpa. With my grandpa, I could properly say goodbye and mourn his death because I could go to his wake, I could physically be there, and I could support my grandma and my family. When my friend passed, I couldn’t be there or do anything. You have to sit in your room and just think about everything and in reality, you’re powerless.” Lowrey says. People passing away is already difficult, but animals are just as difficult and saying goodbye to those family pets during this pandemic is different. “My family dog passed away during the pandemic and that was really hard because my dad was the only one allowed in the room. We had to say bye that morning and we couldn’t support my dad at all. It really affected him because it was just him and the dog without anyone else to go with him or come back.” Samantha Schulewitz, Junior, says.
Supporting wheeling students and families at this time is necessary. People are in need of more help than ever and getting that help is even more difficult than before. What can students do to get assistance if they need it? You can go to the wheeling webpage where you can get social emotional support. There’s many community resources for food, health, mental health services as well as other resources. You can call directly to student services and contact your social worker or counselor. “The message I want to get to the whole community is to just be kind. There’s so many differences in beliefs. In times like this we need to support, be there for one another, and be together. Kindness goes a long way especially during a pandemic,” Fastov says. Thankfully, the pandemic has made people more aware of mental health issues. The biggest thing to remember is that you are not alone. Reach out to resources if you need to. Reach out to your family, friends, and other loved ones.
Social Emotional Support for Students