March 31, 2020

People’s grief goes beyond deaths as a result of COVID-19 pandemic

grief-structure People are finding that grief arises from losses of structure and routine, which are sparking similar reactions to grief over death. (Photo by Claudia Wolff/Unsplash) Download image

WHAT: No matter what lifestyle people may have led previously, things have changed for almost everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of these changes, people are experiencing complicated and dynamic reactions to the loss of specific aspects of their lives.

EXPERT: Heather Servaty-Seib is a Purdue University professor who researches loss and grief experiences in both death and non-death situations. She can speak about grief as a multi-dimensional response, including emotional, social cognitive and physiological, and the unique aspects people are experiencing in their lives as a result of the pandemic.

servaty-seib-h20 Heather Servaty-Seib. (Purdue University photo) Download image


“Losses that people may be experiencing in the face of the pandemic are wide-ranging and may include loss of community, established physical work space, routine, structure, productivity, and freedom of movement — and even more tangible losses such as income, access to resources, and planned activities or celebrations. The losses are real and the grief is real.” 


  • Professor in counseling psychology in the College of Education.
  • Leads the university’s grief and loss research team, focusing on a variety of death and non-death loss experiences (e.g., divorce, romantic breakup, sports injury).
  • Associate dean for student life in the Purdue Honors College.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at


Writer: Brian Huchel,

Source: Heather Servaty-Seib, In addition to phone interviews, Servaty-Seib is available for interviews via Zoom as well as Skype and WebEx.

Note to Journalists: A photo of Heather Servaty-Seib, along with a stock photo, is available on Google Drive.

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