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Missing Milestones and Losses During the Pandemic

Missing Milestones & Losses During the Pandemic

As the months have passed, social distancing and stay-at-home orders have grown stale to the point of feeling unbearable at times. Boredom set in weeks ago and the process of adjusting to the new normal seems like an ongoing process that many of us are still trying to master. Returning to work for many people is bittersweet because although we can (finally) leave our homes and return to some semblance of a routine, the vision of masks, gloves, repeated sanitizing, and six-feet apart warnings reminds us that life definitely does not look or feel the same.

Missing Out

The gradual opening of nonessential services and businesses is considered a step forward for many people while others worry about the potential of setbacks and health consequences. As society cautiously tests the waters, there are still many events and activities that are on hold indefinitely. Most celebratory activities, holiday events, and large social gatherings that we once enjoyed and never believed could threaten public health, are among those that experts anticipate will be forbidden for at least the remainder of this year or longer. Many of us have already missed out on celebrating milestones in the way we are accustomed to and as the months go by, these missed milestones will likely touch all of our lives eventually.

Realizing New Gains

As we process the changes to our everyday life, it’s important to also consider the many experiences, values, and growth opportunities we have gained. Alongside the missed milestones are so many lessons and insights that we’ve developed during the pandemic. Ask anyone, even those who seem to struggle the most with adapting to these changes, and they will tell you something highly valuable that they’ve learned throughout these past few months—their own, personal eye-opening experiences.

Below we will review a few common experiences and events that have been taken from our everyday lives only to be replaced with many other strengths, attributes, and sources of gratitude.


Missed Milestone/ New Experiences


Gained Insights, Realizations, & Experiences

Graduations at all stages, grades, and levels


A lesser focus on the symbolism of the celebration and a greater realization of the hard work involved and finding satisfaction in being proud of oneself for the accomplishment.

Birthday celebrations in large groups


Appreciation of close loved ones and more alone time to reflect on a new year, new goals, and new hopes for the future.

Public leisure/entertainment activities (e.g., restaurants, malls, movie theatres, bars)


Realizing how much focus we place on material things, how much money we spend on unnecessary items/activities, and how none of these things are important next to the health of ourselves and our loved ones.



Discovering new ways to stay busy and getting involved in new hobbies and activities. Realizing how much we depend on the constant stimulation of going out and “doing something.”

Staying at home, too long and too often.


Appreciating home life, family life, and realizing how much time we spend at work while missing out on spending time with our spouse/partner and/or children.

News updates on fatalities.


Gratitude for our health, increased awareness of not only personal safety, but our social duty to do what we can to maintain the safety of others, especially vulnerable populations.


Realizing Even More

There are so many eye-opening experiences that have resulted from the pandemic, staying at home, and being unable to gather socially. For all the moments and experiences we have missed out on, we have found that we have gained so much more. The virus has, in a sense, brought healing to so many of us through our increased gratitude, appreciation, and renewed sense of meaning in our lives. Continue this exercise by listing the things in your life that have come to a pause or may be aspects of your life that you have lost entirely and may never get back and then think of the many parts of yourself and your life that have grown and developed from your loss.

Dr. Michael Messina

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