Loss, safety and hardship have become the defining words of 2020 for most. This year, the holidays will look very different for many families, specifically those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and those who can’t see each other because they are at a high risk of dying from the virus.
According to Miranda Freedman ’21, this year has been especially hard for people who are close to her, and the holiday season will pose some challenges.
“One of my best friends lost both sets of their grandparents within a couple months of each other because they lived in nursing homes and COVID spread rapidly in their facilities,” Freedman said. “It was absolutely devastating. It has caused them to be even more cautious than they already were before and has made them very sad and overwhelmed- I definitely feel the weight of their loss too because my own grandparents are also at risk.”
Many families have decided to not gather in large groups for this holiday season due to the risk of getting COVID-19. Caitlin Houting ’21 said that her family will not be seeing each other in person for Christmas.
“This year, my family decided not to have any holiday parties,” Houting said. “It’s kind of depressing because family is what the holidays are supposed to be about, and I’m not going to get to see mine this year, but I know that it’s for the best. I know too many people who have lost loved ones to this virus and I will do anything in my power to not spread it any further.”
Freedman said that her plans for the holidays will also be different this year, but while disappointing, she knows it’s necessary.
“I am staying home for the holidays and not seeing any extended family because I know there will be a huge spike due to all of the people who choose to travel for the holidays,” Freedman said. “My family and I are doing what we can to reduce the number of cases throughout this season. Not being able to see my family has made me really sad because family is something very important to me, however I know that it’s much safer to not see them right now. When it’s finally safe, it will be that much more fun.”
Fiona O’Byrne ’21 knows many people who have gone through losing family members and friends to COVID and said that the impact is devastating.
“When COVID was first happening, my friend’s grandpa got sick,” O’Byrne said. “He passed away shortly after. This Christmas will be their first without him, and I know that it will be very difficult, especially for their parents. Although I haven’t personally lost anyone to the virus, I can’t imagine how it would feel to lose someone so quickly and unexpectedly.”
Despite these changes and losses due to COVID, we must make the best out of the things we have now and make sure we’re doing our best to do our own parts in stopping the spread of the virus, Freedman said.
“This year has been so hard for so many people, but we just need to keep going,” Freedman said. “All we can do right now is make sure we’re not spreading the virus to those who are at risk, even if that means not seeing your family during the holidays. It’s worth it because you are going to save lives by not gathering and save other people the pain of losing their loved ones.”