The novel coronavirus has changed everything about society right now except our inherent need for other people. Covid-19 stole our ability to do what comes naturally during times of crisis, which is gather together. When we hear awful news, our first instinct is to clutch a loved one close and hug them. That is not possible now for nearly all of us.
The longer the need for self-isolation continues the harder it will be, and the more lives lost to this pandemic, the bigger the toll on humans physically, mentally and emotionally. Nowhere is this clearer than with the actual victims of Covid-19 and their families, as well as people who have lost loved ones to non Covid related illnesses and injuries during this hard time.
Comforting Others in Times of SadnessHaving loved ones at a person’s bedside when they pass is one of the oldest traditions known to humankind. It isn’t just a comfort for the person passing over, it has always been an integral part of the grieving process for families and loved ones.
The last large gathering I attended before the virus hit was the funeral of my best friend’s mother. I am so thankful that he got to have a traditional funeral for her and that I got to be there with him to support and bear witness for it. Recently, I honored the 5th anniversary of my own mother’s passing. I was by her hospital bed until her last breath. I can’t imagine that moment being stolen from me. But thousands and thousands of people have had that happen to them. To not be able clutch their loved one’s hand as they pass, not being able to gather and hug each other during a funeral. It is hard. Impossibly hard. Yet thousands of people have had to endure it.
How can we grieve and find a healthy way to move forward when all the traditions of how we handle the passing of loved ones are no longer an option? We do what humans have always done, we use our immense potential for adaptation and compassion to help ourselves and our loved ones during this intensely challenging time.
Using Technology to ConnectWe attend virtual funerals. We create memorials online through social media. We reach out to our loved ones through video conferences and phone calls. Make time for each other. Is it the same? No. But does it help? Immensely.
One thing that many people have found helpful during this time, especially when you are grieving, is to share your story. Go online and post about what you are going through. Watch or read other people’s stories that they put out there. Knowing others are going through hard times can make you feel not so alone. Your story can inspire others as well.
Be Patient and Listen To Your HeartAs a defense mechanism it is easy to shut down and not acknowledge what our souls are asking for. But don’t do that. Listen to your heart. It needs to connect with those you love, now more than ever. Make communication with those you care about a priority. Pull out a pen and paper and write a letter to someone you miss. Make an actual phone call. Hearing someone’s voice triggers emotional responses like nothing else can. Even though we have to cut ourselves off physically from everyone else right now, don’t cut yourself off emotionally from those that you need and that need you.
Yes, it can be complicated and take some time to get used to, and yes there are technological issues and problems that can be frustrating. Be patient. Be patient with the technology, with those whom technology doesn’t come easily, and be patient with yourself. Honor your need for connection. It is the best way to begin to grieve for those we have lost, for life as we knew it, and to instill within us hope for a better future to come.