Learning to cope with grief from the pandemic


By Serenity, Maleah, and Jamerah | July 2021 … Kevin Carter works with kids and families, helping them if they are grieving or feeling sad or angry. He told us that as the pandemic continued, everyone was experiencing some kind of grief. 

“Before, people used to think it was somebody else”—not themselves—who could need help dealing with grief, said Mr. Carter, who is the clinical director of the Uplift Center for Grieving Children. But now, because so many families have been hurt by the pandemic, “people can identify with other people’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors around grief.” 

Adults learned that grief really affects their children, he added. They “had to become better listeners.”  

During the pandemic, the center moved from working at six locations around the city— in schools and other community organizations—to working on Zoom with online group meetings. Mr. Carter said that one benefit of the change was that children and caregivers could get help without leaving their homes.  

Also, he said, both young people and adults could “have more freedom in this space.” For example, during group show-and-tell, when people might want to share something that reminded them of a loved one, they could just go to their room and bring it to the computer. Sometimes people might bring their dog or cat to show the group.  

Attending school from home made dealing with grief harder for a lot of kids, Mr. Carter said. “If your friends used to make you feel better and now you can’t hang out with them, it makes it harder to cope.” 

Everyone grieves differently, he said, but it helps when “you hear from somebody who is having the same things as in your life. You can share feelings and you can learn from other people. Sometimes you just need a break, and a group can allow you to have a break.” 

Mr. Carter said the pandemic taught him not to take relationships for granted. He and his wife were both working from home, but there were family members he hadn’t been able to see since the start of the pandemic.  

“It taught me to use what I have and the strength of every relationship that I have to benefit what I have,” he said. “It made me respect that time that I have with people and cherish the time I have with my mom and brothers even more. It made me more grateful and appreciative to be alive.”  

— Serenity, Maleah, and Jamerah are reporters for the James Logan Healthy Eagle