“People didn’t get to go to their high school graduations,” said Ms. Melvin, a special events coordinator for Perfect Game Midwest, which organizes and promotes youth baseball and fast-pitch tournaments. “People weren’t able to see family. And here I was, worried about a baseball game.”

That sort of reasoning is a common coping mechanism, said Dr. Shear, the grief expert.

“Whenever we’re dealing with painful emotions, it’s natural to wonder whether we can do anything about it,” Dr. Shear said. “And if we can’t, we usually want to do something to help manage the pain. One way is by reminding ourselves that it could have been a lot worse.”

Although Ms. Melvin knows she’ll eventually see the Statue of Liberty, the baseball trip is another matter: Her son will turn 13 in mid-December, and the invitational is limited to 12-year-olds.

“As a parent, it’s hard on your heart,” Ms. Melvin said. “You just don’t want your babies to lose things they’ve worked so hard for.”

Earlier this year, Doreen Agboh front-loaded her courses so she could spend “senior spring” — the last semester of medical school, before residency begins — traveling to Colombia, Costa Rica and elsewhere.

“In general, as a doctor, you’re never going to have four months of time off unless you build it into your life — but then that means no salary,” said Dr. Agboh, 28, now an emergency-medicine resident physician in Chicago. “There will never be this time again where I have the freedom and the ability to do what I want whenever I want. And, for me, that ‘wanting’ was travel.”

Instead, Dr. Agboh spent much of her senior spring grounded in New Jersey, first in her medical-school apartment in Newark, then in her hometown of Westampton, N.J.