Even more tragic than the number of deaths from COVID-19 is the toll it’s taken on families. In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers estimated that every life lost leaves nine surviving relatives behind.

If accurate, over 1.2 million people in this country have lost a close relative to the virus.

Grief from COVID-19 can be especially hard, as the deaths are sudden and unanticipated. Worse yet, the contagiousness of the disease keeps many from being at the bedside of those who are sick.

This grief can have profound health consequences. The unexpected death of a loved one has been linked to depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as physical health issues like cardiovascular problems.