Struggling Post Pandemic? You’re Not Alone

Offering support in the park

As friends around you adjust to post-pandemic life, how are you doing?

If you are struggling to get going again, you are not alone. The last fifteen months have been difficult. As a nation, we have been through trauma. We have been through not only a pandemic but we have collectively been through:

  • The deaths of over half a million fellow Americans
  • A divisive election
  • The loss of jobs and closures of businesses 
  • The exhaustion of our healthcare workers and essential workers
  • Protesting in the streets over the needless deaths of George Floyd and other black men
  • Avoiding getting close to people or hugging them because of safety
  • Losing our daily routines and often adopting unhealthy habits 
  • Working online, often with children in virtual classrooms at our sides
  • Witnessing people waiting in very long lines just to get food on the table
  • Experiencing natural disasters like tornadoes, ice storms, and wildfires 

And it doesn’t stop. Now, as the nation opens up, we have severe drought in California, increased homelessness, a bigger class divide than ever, friends dealing with long-haul Covid, workplace and other mass shootings, and more divisiveness over masks and vaccines. 

So how do we go on? 

  • Give ourselves permission to go slowly, one hour at a time. 
  • Give ourselves permission to feel the heaviness of the last year and to let it go by talking to others, sharing our feelings, taking walks in nature, joining support groups, and reaching out to friends we haven’t seen much during the pandemic. 
  • Write down three things we’re grateful for each day.
  • Watch a sad movie to get in touch with our own grief and sadness so we can shed those muchly-needed tears.
  • Stop comparing our problems to others’ problems because our problems deserve our attention, too, even if they don’t seem as bad.
  • Host picnics in parks with our friends and family.
  • Hug our children and grandchildren and others.
  • Return to events in person if we’re healthy and vaccinated, and we continue to connect virtually if we’re immunocompromised.
  • Listen closely to those who are hurting
  • Get vaccinated and stay masked to protect those who don’t respond to vaccines.

And most importantly, we practice self-care and self-compassion, and we give compassion, empathy, and love to those around us. 

Love In Action

Valentine’s Day is coming, and I haven’t been hugged since March 4, 2020. No boyfriend hugs, no people hugs. I know many others suffering from hug deprivation as well.

So, for those of us in isolation, how do we celebrate the big day? No romantic dinners, no snuggly evenings together. For those who have lost loved ones and are grieving, no celebration, either. Yet one thing we can all do is celebrate love itself. 

In preparation for Valentine’s Day,  I decided to think back on where I have seen LOVE in my last year of isolation and to celebrate LOVE IN ACTION.

I think of the huge amount of love that our healthcare workers have shown. That kind of love is unconditional love, as they lay their lives on the line to care for those with Covid and other medical issues. Medical love in action.

I think about watching the demonstrations on tv, as people marched in the streets in support of Black Lives Matter. Fair and equal love in action.

I remember looking at my doctors and even my physical therapist through a Zoom screen, and how challenging it was for them, some of whom had small kids at home in the background. Family love in action.

I think of the sacrifices of our essential workers, and while many of them may not love their jobs, they have still thrown their all into their work, showing love in action by keeping groceries and other places open. Essential love in action.

I think about the friends who have offered to get things for me, knowing that I am immunocompromised, about the neighbors I didn’t know who have checked on me to see if I needed anything. Neighborly love in action.

I picture the friendly faces of the workers who delivered medicines to my door, most of them with a kind word and a greeting. Delivery love in action.

I remember all the anxious Zoom faces from our church services throughout the last year, and how we all greet each other and talk over each other excitedly before the worship service starts. God’s love in action.

I think about some of the groups I have attended online and how we laugh and cry together. Shared love in action.

I think about how I learned to watch movies with friends through Netflix thanks to new technology, and how we chat throughout the movies in the chat box. Fun love in action.

I remember joining a Zoom to be present in the courtroom when my dear friends formally adopted two boys and how I had tears in my eyes watching online from across the country. Big love in action.

I admire the bookshelves carefully decorated in the background of professionals’ Zooms as they give the news, report on Covid stats, or broadcast their tv shows. Decorator Love in Action. 

And I sadly remember all those who share their grief and hold memorial services on Zoom as they say good-bye to loved ones through video. Painful love in action. 

This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to celebrate all the ways you have seen Love in Action in the last year. Write them down, talk with friends about how they’ve seen Love in Action, and make plans for how you can practice Love in Action and how you can pay forward all the love you have been shown this year. 

We all need more love, so let’s plan to carry it on throughout this year, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, 2021. Give Love in Action.

Rest, Be Mindful, Day 6

Today is Day 6 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

I hope you’re having some fun with the first 5 Days of Christmas challenges and activities. I’ve enjoyed the activities with friends and hearing how they approached each one. I’ve learned new Christmas Songs for 2020, I’ve asked a friend to walk my Christmas Walk with me, I’ve sent some snail mail cards to kids, and enjoyed the other activities. The first 5 Days were fun.

However, Day 6 of the 25 Days of Christmas, especially because it is a Sunday, seems like a good day to pause and reflect. Light a candle or play some soft music and reflect on all the people across the United States who have died from COVID. As of right now, the number of deaths is at 282,298 and climbing. Pause and take in that number.

Not only is our world weary with Covid, but it is weary with our own grief as well. Be sure to acknowledge your own exhaustion, grief, and heaviness. Name it, own it, and then let it go for today. Holding on to all the sadness and covid fatigue is too much. 

Acknowledge the loss, and then pick up a piece of life. Write a brief note of encouragement to any of these people and ask them to share your words with their staff and co-workers:

  • the head of housekeeping at a hospital
  • any doctor’s clinic
  • manager of a grocery, drugstore, bank, business, etc.
  • respiratory therapy department
  • social workers, chaplains, psychologists, etc.
  • cafeteria workers at hospital
    • ….and so many others

Those are just a few suggestions. Let them or others know that you’re cheering for them, thinking of them, supporting them, and that you appreciate all they do.

They need our love, encouragement, and support, and we need to give it.

The affirmation for Day 6 of the 25 Days of Christmas is “I show appreciation to those who give their time and energy to care for others.”

Support for the One Million

100,000+ US citizens have now died from COVID-19. 100,000 of your neighbors, business owners, grandmothers, school children, doctors, policemen, grocery workers, housekeepers, EMTs, and others who have suffered tremendously from COVID-19 and lost the battle.

Consider that each person who died had a close relationship with at least ten and probably more people in their lives. When I multiply 100,000 times those 10 friends, family members, and co-workers, that means that over one million people in this country are grieving the death of someone who died from COVID-19. They grieve for someone who most likely died either alone in a hospital or with a nurse holding a phone to their ear so they could hear good-byes from those who cared about them.

I have sat with both clients and friends as they face grief and have experienced it myself many times over. The changes that occur in people’s lives after someone dies are monumental and overwhelming.

Those changes happening during this pandemic are even more daunting, as contact with friends and family members is limited due to a possibility of exposure to COVID-19. The grieving isn’t limited to those who have lost loved ones. 

Grief is experienced by those currently sick with the virus, those scared of the virus, those who risk their lives to go to work, those who have no job, those who worry about feeding their families, those who are at risk of losing their homes, those separated from family members, those who lost classroom experience with friends and teachers, those who lost businesses, and many other losses.

Remember that grief or bereavement affects us all in many ways. Feel your feelings, speak them out loud to someone who understands and does not judge you. Seek out further help if you need it.

Stay well and stay safe, and just love your neighbors. Love those one million.