Coping with grief during the holiday season amid coronavirus pandemic

Updated: Nov. 26, 2020 at 12:22 AM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The pandemic isn’t the only thing impacting holiday traditions for some families this year.

The Pastoral Institute in Columbus anticipates grief to be more intense during the holidays this year for those who have lost a loved one.

This is the first Thanksgiving and holiday season Demetrius McBride will celebrate without his parents.

“It’s still a season of Thanksgiving, so now we’re just thankful for the memories, thankful for the laughs, thankful for the lessons, and for everything that my parents taught me,” McBride said.

McBride and his parents all tested positive for COVID-19 over the summer. His mom, Dr. Betty Jean McBride, a long time educator affectionately known as BJ, passed away in August from the virus. Exactly one month later, McBride’s father, Andrew, died from COVID-19 complications.

This Thanksgiving, McBride will have a balloon release for his dad whose birthday falls on the holiday.

“My dad’s is November 26, my birthday is November 30, my mother’s is December 24. So, this two-month period is just a lot of reflecting, a lot of tears, but still being thankful for the memories I do have of my parents,” McBride explained.

The Pastoral Institute said heeding advice from health experts to not spend time with family during the pandemic for safety reasons can also cause grief.

“I understand you want to be together, but it would be better to be together virtually so that you can be together next year, rather than to lose your parents or to lose any family member,” said McBride.

McBride said he’s still going through grief counseling and reminds others to focus on the friends and family they still have here.

“Instead of focusing on the negative, you know just focus on the positive you have. But know it is okay to grieve. It’s okay to cry. I’ve cried twice today. It’s okay to feel your feelings,” he explained.

The Pastoral Institute is partnering with Fourth Street Missionary Baptist Church and First Baptist Church to offer free virtual tools. Click here for a link to their Holiday Hope video.

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