It is early April. I just took a look at a world map updating how many are sick or have died because of the coronavirus. Tears fell as I saw the extent of the pain, loss, fear and death on our planet. It is shocking, sad and frightening. Those feelings are worthy of our attention just as the feelings of hope and love are.
This is something we have never experienced. In addition to staying home for my own safety and to help flatten the curve, I am trying hard to maintain the deep sense of inner peace I have worked hard in my life to develop while I also look the threat of death right in the eye. As a retired therapist over 50 years, assisting others via texts, Zoom, email, Internet and phone is important to me. So is reading, meditating, journaling, watching the news as needed (too much sometimes), enjoying documentaries and videos by my various teachers. Zoom and FaceTime have become my vehicle to take my classes, talk to family and friends and meet with my book club.
This past week I decided to update an emergency document to give (along with keys) to two local friends and to my sister and niece. The paper indicates where my end of life and other important documents are; whom to contact should I end up in the hospital or should this virus take my life; and what to do with my dog, Brinkley. Based on how I am living, I am quite hopeful that I will come through this but the threat is still real.
While my life has become simpler, maybe yours is more complicated as you work at home and step in as your children’s teacher. Maybe you go to a job each day because it is considered essential: medical, food production, police, pharmacies and more.
There are many things I wonder about as I watch our world go through this pandemic. I wonder how many of you have current end-of-life papers so that loved ones know your wishes should they be needed. I wonder how many are helping to flatten the curve by staying home in order to end this scourge more quickly and hopefully with fewer deaths.
In the midst of all of this I wonder whether families are taking advantage of this crisis with its many opportunities to share fears and hopes and comfort with each other and friends (in safe ways). A crisis is a time to identify changes we want to make based on insights we have hopefully gained about our lives during these days. Every crisis comes with insights if we pause and look.
This chapter will end and we can be the better for it no matter how it has affected us. This involves setting time aside to look within; being present to the moments so we learn from our own reactions and responses; examining priorities and values.
Use these days well. Each one comes with lessons.
Mary Friedel-Hunt MA LCSW is a clinical social worker, thanotologist and certified bereavement counselor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 1036, Spring Green, WI 53588; or www.PersonalGrowthandGriefSupportCenter.com. Vincent Kavaloski’s “Parables and Ponderings” will return next month.