Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry
24/7 Hotline 888-760-3332
Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry
24/7 Hotline 888-760-3332

COVID-19 Resources

The dangers and intricacies of the COVID-19 Pandemic have changed the way Unitarian Universalists and other religious liberals congregate, meet for worship and function as a community.

Below you will find worship resources and background information for the UUTRM video released for the anniversary of congregation shutdowns in March 2020.

Our video message has three components:

  • The Corona Virus Pandemic is a “Critical Incident.” The arrival of infections and death to your community, the shutting down of normal community processes, and the isolation that resulted has impacted not only individuals but also your community, the whole nation, and the world.
  • While individuals may react to an incident in very different ways, human populations respond to Critical Incidents in phases. From the initial shock, to heroic action, to disillusionment to rebuilding and mourning, social science has studied how populations behave. Some of these are biological, some are social. Each society has its own toolbox of responses. You may want to reflect on how your community reacted, and lift up what has been helpful.
  • Recognizing signs of emotional reactions in our own bodies and in others can normalize unexpected situations and lead us to compassion and regrowth of community. This is especially important in the spring of 2021, as we are coming up on the first anniversary of shutdown, perhaps of deaths in the congregation, community, or in area nursing homes, and maybe to violence related to COVID-denial. These anniversaries cause subconscious reactions. Knowing this, our communities can provide constructive responses.

On the UUTRM “resources” page, you will find links to presentations on Critical Incident Stress, in addition to many other useful resources.

Here is a link to the cover letter we sent congregations.

As you explore these links, know that they have been developed on a very tight schedule. As such, they may be revised and added to as we approach March 14.

COVID- Phases of Disaster


We assume that you are preparing yourself or your congregation for a session that uses our UUTRM video. We also assume that you are currently going through one of the psychosocial phases that follow the critical incident/disaster of the COVID-19 shutdown and pandemic. As such, we are offering a number of resources while trying to avoid overwhelming you. We suspect that you don’t have time or ability to order books, take courses, or do research in the library. We’ll give you the basics, using clickable resources.

The resources are neither complete nor the latest research. Recently, research has started on understanding how different communities process traumatic events. We do not have that research, so recognize that marginalized communities may have coping methods and understandings which emphasize, prolong or ritualize phases of trauma recovery compared with the majority-culture research provided.

For example, in Judaism, the anniversary of a death is often marked by announcement to the community and lighting a candle to burn for the day. Anniversaries are often “trigger events” in working through grief. The ritual may influence the community’s emotional reaction.

Phases of Disaster Conceptual Graph from DeWolfe

The Illustration “Phases of Disaster” is credited to L.H. Zunin and D. Meyers, This graph appears in Deborah J. DeWolfe, Training Manual for Mental Health and Human Service Workers in Major Disasters, 2nd ed., DHHS publications no. ADM 90-358 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, 2000).

Our Source of the “Phases of Disaster” Diagram

Our video references what social scientists call the “Phases of a Disaster” – the psychological and social impact of a disaster, or, in simpler terms, the emotional roller-coaster which follows a “Critical Incident” in the community. In the case of COVID-19, the community is “planet earth”. We are in the midst of the response.

DeWolfe can help you understand critical incident reactions and possible responses. The diagram is part of our UUTRM training and we often use it when we respond to a critical incident. Start with Section 2 “Responses to Disaster” on the 15th page of the text (page 5 in the manual).

The 19th page begins listing emotional reactions during the “Phases of Disaster”

  • Warning or Threat Phase
  • Impact Phase
  • Rescue or Heroic Phase
  • Remedy or Honeymoon Phase
  • Inventory Phase
  • Disillusionment Phase
  • Reconstruction or Recovery Phase

This is followed by a list of guiding principles “Key Concept of Disaster Mental Health.” That will give you a good basis for leading a presentation. There is much more in this Training Manual, if you have time.

DeWolfe is a general purpose document for mental health workers.

UUTRM works to provide culturally sensitive spiritual care to faith leaders and congregations, just as you do. To translate DeWolfe to a spiritual care perspective, you may want to read:

“The Life Cycle of a Disaster” by Rabbi Steven B. Roberts, BCJC, in Disaster Spiritual Care. Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight Paths Publishing,

Rabbi Roberts goes through the same diagram with a specific emphasis on religious leaders. While you have to buy the book to read the reference above, here are two other sources which may be of use:

Rabbi Roberts also wrote the Introduction to the above book. The Introduction suggests roles for religious leaders in a disaster called “Disasters and Spiritual Care”. Because it is the introduction to Disaster Spiritual Care, 2nd Edition: Practical Clergy Responses to Community, Regional and National Tragedy. It’s available to be read for free using Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature for this book. Follow the link to view it.

Roger Daniel, a writer from the Church of God, explains and interprets Rabbi Roberts’ work in a blog entry called “the Life Cycle of a Disaster”.

No doubt there are many more resources online. This should provide a good start.

The Videos

To download the videos below, click the “VIMEO” label at the bottom right of the video player. When the video opens in Vimeo, look for the “download” button under the video player.

Shorter Video: 6 minutes 10 seconds   

Longer Video: 8 minutes 14 seconds. 

These two videos cover the same material, but the longer one has a bit more detail, and a moment of reflection. 

How to use this video message

You are free to use these videos as you wish, such as: 

  • A part of a worship service
  • A lead-in to facilitated coffee hour conversations
  • An evensong reflection    
  • A conversation starter for facilitated covenant and identity groups    
  • Inspiration for your own sermon or homily

Note our use of the term “facilitated.” Facilitators help remind group members that conversations are not a substitute for therapy and they should not become blame-placing sessions. Shaming and blaming can cause new trauma.  You might consider asking your Pastoral Care Associates or other trained members of your congregation to facilitate. The background material may help them to guide the discussion.

If you use either version of the video, you might preface it with words like:

This video comes from the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry, an organization which helps congregations build resilience after critical events such as the onset and ongoing nature of the COVID-19 crisis. March 14 is the anniversary of our worship services going virtual, and this is a good time to reflect on not only what we may have lost but also how this time has inspired new ways of being inclusive, creative, and welcoming.  

While it does not appear in the video, the graph above, from a US Government publication, may be useful to display as a slide before or after the video.

Finally, a one-page handout, “UUTRM-one page-handout.pdf” is available for download.  It lists the many reactions, conscious, unconscious, and physical which can occur following a critical incident, and may be distributed to participants in any of your gatherings.  (You may send the link or the .pdf file)

You may quote from these pages in newsletter articles.  You may also want to include a link to the UUTRM.ORG website.

Technical stuff

The video message comes in two different versions and several different screen resolutions. There are also Closed Caption files for each version, which can also be selected directly on Vimeo.

Video Sizes: SD 360p, SD 540p, HD 720p, HD 1080p,
Audio/Video File Format: .mp4
Caption file (.set)

How to assemble the videos into virtual worship:

The pages on vimeo.com include a button marked “”Download”.  This button provides access to the video in different sizes. The “Download” button also allows you to download a captioning .srt file, which contains one track of English Language captions. 

We URGE you to show this video with the captions enabled. (tested with VLC Media Player). If this process it too technical for your team, you can stream the video from vimeo, clicking the button marked “CC” and selecting “English” from the menu.

To review the video Script, click here

As with any pre-recorded files, when showing with “Zoom”, be sure to click “USE COMPUTER AUDIO” so the audience hears the message too.

Videos are (c) Copyright 2021 Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry, Inc. and free for use with attribution.

Other resources

Cultural Considerations-Culturally-Sensitive Trauma-Informed Care

COVID-19 has not had an equal impact on all populations in our country.  Poor, urban and immigrant populations in particular have been especially hard hit.  Responders must be sensitive and not assume their culture’s response to trauma is the only possible response, or even the”correct” response for others.

While this link (to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute)  is not particular dealing with COVID-Trauma, and is specific to trauma in children, it does discuss some different ways cultures process traumatic stress. CHoP Research Institute reminds us to: “Take time to discern what the individual’s experience was, what they are worried about, and what their family or family-of-choice feels about the trauma.”

Center For Disease Control and Unitarian Universalist Association resources for COVID-19

Also, learn about how governmental and industrial responses to COVID-19  (layoffs, mandatory work, unsafe work, etc.) impacts different communities   

UUA: COVID-19 and Your Congregation 
CDC resources for houses of worship

For more information, on any of these resources or to connect with UUTRM in a non-emergency, email info@UUTRM.org. In an emergency, call the 24/7 Hotline at 888-760-3332.