Responding to COVID-19 | Grief, Loss, and Bereavement

Responding to COVID-19

Grief, Loss, and Bereavement

The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences have caused significant loss, including lives, livelihoods, social/physical connections, our usual ways of life, and how we grapple with death and mourning. 

Grief is the emotional, cognitive, functional, and behavioral reactions a bereaved person might experience as a result of loss. Although grief is a normal process, in some it becomes prolonged or complicated, requiring intervention. Moreover, aspects of COVID-19 have made the grieving process more difficult, such as ambiguous loss that has no resolution or closure (e.g., social isolation during shelter-in-place), the need to isolate hospitalized patients, rendering families unable to visit or say goodbye, and disruptions in mourning rituals (e.g., not gathering for funerals).

Mental health and school mental health personnel are often not fully trained on helping patients manage grief, loss, and bereavement, especially in the types of situations seen during this pandemic.

Here, we highlight MHTTC training and technical assistance products and resources related to grief, loss, and bereavement, as well as a compilation of resources from other reputable organizations. A virtual learning series on grief sensitivity and grief counseling during COVID-19 will be available in the coming weeks.

MHTTC Upcoming Events:

More events coming soon!

MHTTC Products and Resources:


Ambiguous Loss: Grieving in the Time of COVID-19, Followed by Live Q&A Session | Northwest MHTTC

This webinar gives you an overview of what grief looks like at any time but especially during a time of ambiguous loss. We talk about how to care for yourself and others in a time of uncertainty.

Communicating Death and Dying to Latino Families during a Pandemic | National Hispanic and Latino MHTTC

Talking about death and dying is always difficult, but communicating to families during pandemics like COVID-19 poses special challenges. This presentation discusses strategies for respectfully communicating with Latino families about COVID related end of life issues.

Complicated Grief: Cultural Considerations When Working with Loss in Hispanic and Latino Students and Their Families | National Hispanic and Latino MHTTC

This document informs on what complicated grief is and how the Hispanic and Latino children and youth express it. It provides key aspects of Hispanic and Latino culture and three evidence-based interventions that have been proven to work to address the grieving process with Hispanic and Latino children, youths, and their families. Also, it covers how school personnel can manage this process.

Crisis Readiness, Response, and Recovery Webinar Series | Pacific Southwest MHTTC

Bereavement outside the context of a crisis is common – the vast majority of children experience the death of a close family member or friend. These deaths have a significant and often long-term impact on learning, social and emotional development, behavior, and adjustment. This series provides practical suggestions on how schools can talk with and support grieving children in general. 

  • Part 1 - Principles of Commemoration and Memorialization: Commemorative activities and memorialization in schools present opportunities for students and staff to take an active role in constructing an enduring memory related to a crisis event and to honor those whose lives were lost. This session reviews key considerations for planning commemorative and memorial activities in school settings.
  • Part 2 - Supporting Grieving Students During a Pandemic: The current pandemic is associated with a large and growing number of deaths. This presentation provides practical suggestions on how schools can talk with and support grieving children in general. This presentation also highlights the unique challenges for supporting students during the pandemic and describe free resources from the Coalition to Support Grieving Students that can be used to address these challenges.
  • Part 3 - When school starts back: Helping students, staff, and yourself cope with crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic: This session summarizes the principles of psychological first aid and common reactions that may be seen in any crisis event, including the current pandemic. It also provides practical advice on how to help students and staff understand and cope with the current pandemic and begin to prepare for what may be needed to offer support to students when schools re-open. The session underscores the need for professional self-care and highlights some of the barriers as well as some potential solutions. Recording coming soon!

Managing the Impact of COVID-19 in Children, Families and Communities through Prevention StrategiesSoutheast MHTTC

This webinar takes a look at some of the challenges caused by the uncertainty of COVID19, including chronic stress, emotional distress, and loss through the lens of prevention. It provides strategies and solutions for health promotion, with practical tips that translate theory into workable practice. It also provides guidelines for implementing prevention strategies and educating clients on prevention. A workbook via a downloadable PDF accompanies the training to reinforce the concepts provided in the webinar and for use as an ongoing resource.

Recording and workbook coming soon!

Rural Social Isolation and Loneliness Series | Mountain Plains MHTTC

In this session one, trainers discuss what has changed as a result of the current health pandemic, how we can prepare rural providers to ask questions to determine isolation/loneliness, and more. Session two provides examples of programs that address rural isolation among older adults, and how they have adapted during the health pandemic. Finally, the third session focuses on grief and loss and supports available in rural areas.

School Mental Health Crisis Leadership Lessons: Voices of Experience from Leaders in the Pacific Southwest Region | Pacific Southwest MHTTC

This guide highlights how school mental health leaders can – and do – work with and through crises; provides an overview of the crisis continuum; explores the intersection between school crises and school mental health leadership; and examines each component of the school crisis continuum (readiness, response, recovery, and renewal) by learning from voices of experience from the field. A complementary Reflection Worksheet is designed to help readers work through the guide.

Strategies for Addressing Trauma, Crises and Grief Through Tele-Mental Health | MHTTC Network

This is the third and final session of the three-part webinar series, Making a Good Connection: Engaging Students and Families in School Tele-Mental Healththat is geared toward providers who are making the transition from in-person to telehealth services. Session content focuses on practical strategies and equity concerns related to engaging children, adolescents, and families using distance technology. 

Using the Lens of Ambiguous Loss to Treat COVID-19 Pandemic Fear and AnxietyGreat Lakes MHTTC

Dr. Pauline Boss explains ambiguous loss, its effects, its differences from ordinary loss and PTSD, and its complicating grief. She presents six culturally inclusive guidelines for treatment and intervention, useful regardless of your discipline. She also addresses self-of-the-therapist issues for these uncertain times.

    Other Resources:


    Webinars and Trainings

    American Counseling Association: Working With Youth Who Experience Grief and Loss

    APA Office of Continuing Education: Crisis Response Planning for Preventing Suicidal Behaviors

    APA Office of Continuing Education: Grief in Childhood: Fundamentals of Treatment in Clinical Practice

    APA Office of Continuing Education: New Paths for People With Prolonged Grief Disorder

    Association for Death Education and Counseling: Grieving the Loss of Living our Lives

    Association for Death Education and Counseling: Mindfulness Practices for Grieving During the COVID Pandemic

    Association for Death Education and Counseling: Providing Support to Survivors of a COVID-related Death

    Hospice Foundation of America: Complicated Grief in the COVID-19 Era: Complicated Grief in the Era of Covid-19 Era

    Hospice Foundation of America: Complicated Grief in the COVID-19 Era: Therapeutic Response to Trauma and Loss in the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Hospice Foundation of America: Disenfranchised Grief and COVID-19

    Hospice Foundation of America: How to Develop and Manage Virtual Grief Support Groups

    Hospice Foundation of America: Increased Relevance of Advance Care Planning in the COVID-19 Era

    Hospice Foundation of America: Making Funerals Meaningful in the Age of COVID-19

    National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors: Journey Through Grief and Loss

    National Alliance for Grieving Children: Distance Education and Displacement: Understanding the Impact on College Students and Young Adults

    National Alliance for Grieving Children: Family Night in a Box: Expressive Activities adapted for Bereaved Families during COVID-19

    National Alliance for Grieving Children: The Interaction of Trauma and Grief in the Age of a Pandemic: The Role of Bereavement Programs in Promoting Child and Family Resilience

    National Alliance for Grieving Children: Planning and Adapting for the Next Way of Grief Service Delivery

    National Alliance for Grieving Children: Through the Lenses of Grief: A Conversation about Grieving Children, Teens, and Families in the Emotional Climate of the Coronavirus

    National Association of Social Workers: Grief and Mourning During COVID-19

    National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement: COVID-19 Pandemic Resources

    Portland Institute for Loss and Transition: When Grief Goes Viral: Assessment and Intervention in the Coronavirus Crisis

    School Counselors for MTSS: Webinar Series

    Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network: Virtual Summit

    The Center for Complicated Grief: Promoting Resilience in Bereaved Children and Parents

    The Center for Complicated Grief: Public Mental Health and Bereavement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    The Center for Complicated Grief: Understanding Grief and Adaptation to Loss In The Time of Coronavirus

    The Grief Recovery Method: 4-Day Certification Training

    The Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death: Grief Work for Healthcare Providers

    The REACH Institute: Evidence Based Assessment of Bereavement and Grief in the Era of COVID-19, August 10 from 12-1:30pm PT / 3-4:30pm ET

    The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare: We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Heal: Processing Grief through the Written Word


    Fact Sheets and Tip Sheets

    Association for Behavioral and Cogntive Therapies (ABCT): Bereavement

    Association for Behavioral and Cogntive Therapies (ABCT): Complicated Grief

    Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: Grief Leadership During COVID-19

    Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: Notifying Families After a COVID-19 Death

    Child Mind Institute: Helping Children Cope With Grief

    National Association of School Psychologists: Addressing Grief

    National Association of School Psychologists: When Grief Hits Close to Home

    National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Mental Health Providers

    National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Parents and Caregivers

    National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Pediatric Providers

    National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Helping Children with Traumatic Separation or Traumatic Grief Related to COVID-19


    Online Articles

    American Counseling Association: Counseling Connoisseur: Death and Bereavement During COVID-19

    American Nurse: Grief Management After a Nurse’s Death

    American Psychological Association: Grief and COVID-19: Mourning Our Bygone Lives

    American Psychological Association: Grieving Life and Loss

    American Psychological Association: Grief and COVID-19: Saying Goodbye in the Age of Physical Distancing

    Scientific American: Grief in the Time of COVID-19

    The Atlantic: All the Things We Have to Mourn Now: Six experts explain how to recognize the many new faces of grief during a pandemic


    Toolkits and Guidelines

    Good Grief: Funerals in the Time of a Pandemic: A Toolkit for Children & Families

    Intervention in School and Clinic: Coping With Grief: Guidelines and Resources for Assisting Children

    The World Health Organization: Guidelines for the Diagnosis of Prolonged Grief Disorder


    SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline is standing by 24/7 to support you during the pandemic & beyond. Toll-free, multilingual, & confidential support services are available to all residents in the U.S. & its territories. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained counselor.