Skip to main content
Full Menu Close Menu
Your Well-being

Work, grief and COVID

New York Teacher

As we begin a new school year, many of us are grieving the loss of people — colleagues, family members and friends — and the way things were prior to the pandemic. Students need extra support, too.

Things are different for the educators who returned to school buildings in September. Classrooms do not look the same. You will not look the same either, as you — and your students — will be wearing masks in class. A random sample of staff and students at each school will be asked to get tested monthly for COVID-19.

Your workplace routine will feel anything but usual. Schedules and daily routines have been adjusted to fit the needs of your school building. The pandemic has changed our everyday work life, how we teach and support students, and how we interact with one another.

The pandemic has also changed how we grieve. If you were unable to say goodbye to a loved one due to restrictions at hospitals and nursing homes, it can complicate your grief and leave you without a sense of closure.

The UFT’s Member Assistance Program (MAP) has been offering virtual grief support groups since April. These groups have been a way for school communities to start to heal and to honor and memorialize their lost colleagues.

Other ways to cope

  • Stay connected: Talk to friends, family and colleagues regularly through FaceTime, Zoom or other virtual platforms.
  • Use other online bereavement resources: Calvary Hospital provides free bereavement support groups via Zoom for adults, children and families.
  • Practice self-care: Yoga, meditation, light reading, watching comedies and walking outdoors are some of the activities you can employ.
  • Write down your feelings: Use journaling, poetry and other forms of written expression.
  • Acknowledge there is no time limit on grief: Be easy on yourself and ask for what you need.
  • Support one another: Help others in and out of the workplace, whether it’s in person or virtually.

Visit MAP online at to see the variety of support groups you can access, and email MAP at or call 212-701-9620 for more information. Visit the MAP resource page to find available referrals and resources.

Member Assistance Program

The Member Assistance Program (MAP) has trained professional counselors who guide you through the problems that can put your health and job in jeopardy. You can expect our services to be confidential, professional and supportive.