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National COVID-19 Day: Processing Grief and Encouraging Hope

A day to remember, encourage, and help.

Researchers have found that the pandemic has, and continues to be causing significant challenges. COVID-19 has resulted in deep suffering and loss for people around the world, and the common experience of social distancing has created intense feelings of isolation, helplessness, and loss.

As we near the 1-year anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic, the United States has surpassed over 500,000 COVID-19 related deaths.

This is why National COVID-19 Day on March 11th is so important. Such days can help us come together virtually and safely in ways that remind us that we are not alone and that we will eventually overcome this pandemic.

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

About National COVID-19 Day

The purpose of National COVID-19 Day is to help the United States navigate our collective grief, encourage one another, and embrace hope for what is ahead. National COVID-19 Day will take place on March 11, 2021, which is the 1-year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

National COVID-19 Day and strategic partners have created an online platform for people from all walks of life to observe shared grief, come together virtually, or volunteer with proper safety protocols to recognize others in our communities and country making a difference and provide support from caring listeners.

On November 24th, 2020 the National Day Archives approved a proclamation certifying that March 11 of each calendar year will be officially designated as National COVID-19 Day. Efforts are underway to secure future municipal, state, and national support and recognition of the day.

Why a National Day Dedicated to COVID-19 Is Important

Having studied and helped amidst major disasters and public health crises all over the globe, we’ve seen first-hand how important public days are to helping neighborhoods to nations hopefully navigate grief and endure adversity.

“We are all going through COVID-19 together,” said Rob Peabody, co-founder and CEO of VOMO, who is also helping organize National COVID-19 Day. “We may be processing it differently and have had different experiences throughout the pandemic, but as a whole, it is something that the entire world is grappling with collectively. It has given us the opportunity to process together, empathize together, and now make a difference together.”

“We join with the Humanitarian Disaster Institute to mark this somber occasion and honor more than 500,000 precious lives lost to COVID-19 – and countless more families suffering the impact of the pandemic … That’s why National COVID-19 Day is a time of remembrance, but also hope,” said Edgar Sandoval, President and CEO of World Vision U.S.

This global experience has resulted in deep suffering and loss for people around the world, and the common experience of social distancing has created intense feelings of isolation, helplessness, and loss. But movements like National COVID-19 Day help us recognize our shared experience, help observe the losses we’ve experienced, provide encouragement to others, raise awareness about health and mental health challenges, and create opportunities to get help and provide help.

How to Get Involved on National COVID-19 Day

To remember those who have died from COVID-19, National COVID-19 Day is encouraging others to observe a moment of silence on March 11, as well as to pause weekly in remembrance through partner The Friday Minute. People can also share memories online thanks to a collaboration with FacesOfCOVID.

People can also get free help from partners like the world’s largest free online emotional support network 7 Cups, Inspire’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support Group and Discussion Community, and National Association of Social Workers’ Help Starts Here. Another way people can find support is by joining National COVID-19 Day partners COVID-19 Long-Haulers Discussion Group and COVID-19 Loss Support for Family & Friends group on Facebook.

The website also allows users to send thank-you videos to encourage and show appreciation to frontline workers, healthcare workers, family and friends, educators, students, helpers, service industry workers, and small businesses. Through a partnership with VidHug, National COVID-19 Day will also be sharing large montage videos to help share COVID-19 stories and experiences.

Through National COVID-19 Day’s platform powered by VOMO, people can volunteer by matching with organizations helping in 14 major U.S. cities and from anywhere through online community service projects. Another way people can get involved is by engaging with National COVID-19 Day’s partners, such as Access Services and Pandemic of Love.

National COVID-19 Day Resources

Free resources for navigating grief, cultivating resilience, and caring for others from National COVID-19 Day partners and collaborators including ebooks, articles, and more. COVID-19 research-based quizzes, insights, and toolkits are available from the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, VOMO, Harvard University Human Flourishing Program, Fred Hutch Cancer Center, Healthcare Ready, RAND, Dwight Hall at Yale, The Pandemic Grief Project, The Coronavirus Anxiety Project, and others.

Groups Making National COVID-19 Day Possible

Over the past year, the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College and volunteer management nonprofit VOMO have been at the forefront of equipping community organizations for COVID-19 response. Thanks to the generous support of World Vision and collaboration they are working together along with the National Association of Social Workers and other nonprofit, grassroots, and corporate partners to launch National COVID-19 Day. National COVID-19 Day is made possible by the generous support of World Vision.

About the Authors: Jamie Aten, Ph.D. is founder and co- director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College and Blanchard Professor of Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership. (See profile information below for contact information.) Kent Annan, M.Div. is co- director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute and Associate Lecturer of Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership at Wheaton College. Follow on Twitter at @kentannan or visit kentannan.com. They are also the co-founders of National COVID-19 Day.

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