Living Well, Dying Well

Mary Friedel-Hunt

My mom used to tell me that it is darkest before the dawn. So here we are waiting for dawn, living in chaos and experiencing incredible losses of all kinds. These are indeed challenging days. It takes trust when we can’t see where we are going and where we are is frightening and unpredictable. It is difficult to function easily and well when anxiety haunts us. We want these days of turmoil to end. We want peace and safety; to go out to dinner with family and friends, and to see our kids happy and safe. I want to drop by someone’s house for a cup of coffee but, since March 6, the only person who has been in my house is a dear friend who rescued me from a dark kitchen when the last ceiling light went out. I am sure we all have stories about these past months. 

Our goal these days has to include finding as much calm as possible in this storm. 

We now face holidays that will be very different for most of us. Being unable to visit with family, friends and more has made the days ahead a bit foreboding to say the least.

I am writing this in mid-October as we await the election. We all know that politics and COVID-19 have taken up a lot of emotional space in our lives this year. The coming three months may be tumultuous, to say the least. 

So how about creating a plan that will assist you? First: How will you and your people handle the holidays while staying safe given the fact that the virus will be part of our lives and is at a dangerous level here? Why not sit down with whomever you choose and plan not just for the holidays but for the winter months? What can you do to stay healthy? Creating a bubble with a few people who are totally and utterly committed to the guidelines is a good starting place. Be watchful of people who stretch the boundaries. “I am careful” has many meanings. Check that those you plan to be with agree with your definition. Perhaps it is a good time to write the book you have always wanted to write; learn to paint or sculpt; take some online classes, start meditating each day, teach the kids how to cook or play some games with them. There are lots of options. But planning helps.

Make the most of the solitude. These days of chaos and crises are days that can transform us in many ways if we use them well. You may regret it if you come out of these months having wasted the opportunities they offered.  

Finally, reach out to those who grieve a loss (recent or long ago). Reach out to those who live alone. There are many ways to do this. Plan a Zoom date; drop off cookies or a casserole; pick up the phone; send emails or cards. Reaching out creates a sense of peace. Plan. Make a list. Do it.

Mary Friedel-Hunt MA LCSW is a clinical social worker, thanotologist and certified bereavement counselor. She can be reached at mfriedelhunt@charter.net; P.O. Box 1036, Spring Green, WI 53588; or www.PersonalGrowthandGriefSupportCenter.com.