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How You Can Honor National COVID-19 Day

10 ways to spend the 1-year anniversary of the pandemic.

National COVID-19 Day was announced to mark the day that COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, an opportunity to process grief and find hope. Here are 10 ways to observe National COVID-19 Day individually or in your community.

1. Make space for reflection.

In a world in which we receive an endless stream of news and noise, some of us have very little space for peaceful rest. For stillness. For silence. (If those feel foreign to you, you’re not alone!)

Mark time on your calendar to be alone and reflect on the last 12 months. It may be an hour set apart before bedtime tonight, an early-morning wakeup before the noise begins, or even a quiet Saturday retreat in the park. You need no other agenda than to be quiet and to listen.

2. Create a physical remembrance.

Consider creating a remembrance that can help you honor what you and others have endured during the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps you’ll plant a tree that you’ll photograph each year on March 11. Or you can help children in your neighborhood paint rocks for neighbors’ gardens and yards. Or you might simply add a candle in your kitchen that helps you to remember what all have endured.

3. Reach out to someone who is lonely.

The suffering created by COVID-19 is more pervasive than what we can see in the regular reports of lives that have been lost to the virus. While practicing social distancing has saved countless lives, it has also created intense feelings of isolation, helplessness, and loss. If you’re among these, pick up the phone today and reach out to share that with someone who cares for you. And if you have the social support you need, consider those in your circles who live alone, who might not have family nearby, or who might be isolated for a variety of reasons.

National COVID-19 day, used with permission
Source: National COVID-19 day, used with permission

4. Chronicle your grief.

Perhaps you’ve been told that it’s alright to grieve, and you even agree that you need to. But for the last 12 months, you’ve been pretty occupied with work, and groceries, and laundry, and caring for others. Practice self-care this week by pausing to make room for your own grief. Specifically, grab a journal or notebook—or even open a document on your laptop—and reflect on the ways the pandemic has impacted your life. If feelings come up, pause to notice and receive them.

5. Volunteer.

As innovators are developing new strategies to fight the virus, find ways to participate. One non-profit hosting a vaccination pop-up event needs nurses to volunteer as monitors. Older adults in your community may need contactless delivery of meals. Find ways to use the resources you have to serve others.

6. Write a simple litany.

You may choose to write a litany: words that help you remember. It could be as simple as: “We remember how the pandemic impacted our world.” Or it could include the names of those who lost their lives. Don’t try to dodge the chaos and pain you’ve felt, but also consider the ways you adapted and grew: “We were strong and brave.”

National COVID-19 Day, used with permission
Source: National COVID-19 Day, used with permission

7. Care for survivors.

Twelve months ago, many of us in the United States didn’t know someone personally who’d been affected by the loss of a loved one to COVID-19. Today there are likely few, if any, who do not.

Whether someone you know lost a loved one nine months ago or nine days ago, pause to care for them. Write a letter. Make a phone call. Let someone who’s suffered due to COVID-19 know that you care.

8. Give someone else permission to grieve.

Let someone else know about National COVID-19 Day. So many of us are caught up in the cycle of going to work, figuring out childcare, paying the bills, fixing the car, and putting dinner on the table that we haven’t taken the time to grieve the pervasive impact of COVID-19 in our lives and in our communities. These are our sisters and brothers, our parents and children, our neighbors and friends. Let someone else know that they have permission to grieve.

9. Encourage someone who is struggling today.

Maybe your neighbor has recovered from a bout with COVID-19 but has lost her sense of taste. Or perhaps someone you know is sitting vigil at home while a parent is attached to a ventilator in the hospital. Or maybe the husband of a pregnant young woman was just diagnosed. Notice those around you who might be struggling today and reach out to them.

10. Participate in online events.

Consider inviting others to participate in a public event online that helps folks to move from grief to hope. This could be a large-scale event—for your town or city—or it could be as simple and small as inviting a few neighbors to gather outside and practice a period of silence together. You can make space for participants to name what they’ve lost, silently or aloud, and you can also invite people to name reasons for hope that they hold in their hearts today.

You can visit the official National COVID-19 Day website for more resources, support, and ideas.