Living Well, Dying Well

Mary Friedel-Hunt

The long winter is winding down and I for one am very glad. These months have taken a toll on most of us with the COVID virus and dark winter months keeping us more isolated than usual. We are social beings and even those of us who are introverts have found it difficult to be alone so much or, in the case of families, to be on top of each other in the house all the time while unable to socialize, travel or just have a cup of coffee with a friend. 

If you have found yourself being somewhat or seriously depressed, or if you are experiencing feelings of anger or anxiety, I urge you to consider seeing a mental health professional for some support. It might also help for you to share these feelings with friends or family via Zoom or chats online. I understand that many people find it difficult to ask for help. We live in a society that offers little support for that. We have a history in our culture of being taught to stand on our own two feet; not to burden others with your troubles; not to share private information; or not to discuss our grief. Hopefully you have a friend or family member who would be happy to listen to you and who may benefit from more frequent sharing. 

The approaching spring months will lift the spirits of many of us even if we are still isolated, but there are many who, in spite of the coming spring months and longer days, will struggle with all that has gone on and is going on. Perhaps a friend has lost someone close to them. This is an opportunity to reach out to those who might need a hand right now. Check in with friends; share your own pain with them; make a commitment to frequent phone/Zoom calls. 

I know that it has helped me a great deal to share frustrations and sadness focused around my brother who in the past year has struggled in his assisted living in Indiana. He has lost most of his vision and Parkinson’s has led to muscle weakness, cognitive losses and memory issues. Attempting to help him from here has been incredibly difficult, and seeing that his care is appropriate is sometimes impossible. I am certain I am not alone in long-distance caregiving. But I can also assure you that my friends have been extremely supportive and helpful and patient when I just needed to share or vent. 

If you have not reached out for help or if you have not reached out to BE a helper, it is not too late. We are far from seeing the end of this virus controlling, and in too many instances, ending lives. It is very easy to postpone that phone call and research shows that NOT taking action within 24 hours reduces the chances of your doing anything. 

Reach out today to help or get help. 

Mary Friedel-Hunt has retired after 50 years of practice as a licensed clinical social worker and certified bereavement counselor. She can be reached at mfhunt44@gmail.com or P.O. Box 1036, Spring Green, WI 53588.