Saturday, April 11, 2020

Healing Through Hope

     There is some glimmer of hope regarding the corona virus pandemic. Hospital admissions for the virus are starting to decrease around the world and in several epicenters in the United States. This is a small positive break in otherwise what have been steady, daunting statistics. With this break in admissions to the hospital and intensive care units, the numbers of deaths should also start to decrease in two to three weeks as well.

     I am feeling folks breathe a collective sigh of relief worldwide if and when isolation and lockdowns can be lifted. I can imagine church bells ringing in my head because everyone will be overjoyed even if cautiously optimistic. Sunrises will seem more glorious and brighter and sunsets deeper and more beautiful. Children will laugh and play in the streets again. Cars will honk their horns. Basketballs will bounce. Baseballs will crack on bats. Music will blare. The smell of cooking food will permeate the air. Businesses will display open signs. People will happily return to work. Cash drawers will open and close. Traffic will resume. Grocery stores will be well stocked with no waiting lines. Less people will need food banks. Churches, synagogues and mosques will open again.  It may happen gradually, but it will happen.

     We will appreciate these simple things we always took for granted. Maybe that is the message and lesson here. It took a pandemic to make us realize what we can live without. In a sense, the pandemic will be a great equalizer. Do we really need to impress anyone with our things? Do we really need so many things? Do we really need to "see" and "be seen" in so many places or is family time more important? Do we really need the most expensive of everything or is "good enough" good enough? Do we really need to revel in a secular and sexual society for ourselves and our children or would religion and spirituality be more meaningful to our lives. It would indeed be sad to go through such a life altering experience as this pandemic and not come out a changed person for the better.

     Let us all hope and pray for those joyous days signaling our release come sooner than later. Until then, we must remain vigilant so they do in fact come. Keep your mind's eye on those new sunrises and sunsets to come. Listen for those church bells announcing our release from this enemy pandemic. We can do this. Keep the faith and fight on one and all. Keep hope alive. We can heal in many ways.

                             "Just living is not enough...One must have sunshine, freedom
                                                and a little flower."        Hans Christian Andersen

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Help for Corona Virus Grief & Loss

     "I'm sorry," the doctor always says. Today these words are being repeated in staggering, overwhelming numbers to parents, spouses, siblings, children and friends. Add to that families and friends cannot be with their ill loved ones during their illnesses or final moments. Funerals cannot be the same if at all.

     The shocking and devastating news continues for parents who have lost a child, spouses who have lost a soul mate, children who have lost a father or mother, sisters or brothers who have lost one another. It is difficult to comprehend the worldwide numbers let alone the personal and social consequences to come.

     Those of you left behind must be asking yourselves how could this happen to your loved ones? Of all the things that could go wrong in life among the tragedies and diseases, how could a pandemic of this magnitude strike? Who would have this on their list of things that might happen to themselves or a loved one???!!!

     We may never really know how this corona virus actually started or how it originally escaped. That is not something to which I have the answer. But what can you do if you have been affected by the loss of your loved one? I know you are feeling lost, numb and adrift and perhaps angry. It may be difficult to grieve as you may be isolated from those who would be most able to support you. I would recommend the following:

     *Do not be totally alone all the time. If you are not with your spouse, try to be with a trusted family member or friend some of the time.

     *Accept help such as cooked meals, grocery shopping, child care, laundry, dog walking, housekeeping, etc.

     *Eat, exercise, shower, walk, rest and try to keep a schedule

     *Write down your thoughts and feelings just to get them out. Don't worry about grammar and spelling. Do this everyday.

     *Write a letter to your loved one to say good-bye. You can bury it at the cemetery at the grave in the future or not.

     *Cry. Pound the bed pillows. Scream in the shower. Get your feelings out.

     *If you feel a lot of anger or blame, it might be helpful to actually list in writing all individuals or factors in whom you blame then put this aside somewhere private and safe.  When this blame and anger starts swirling in your head, remind yourself you have done this and it is tucked safely away for the time being. 

     *If you know someone else who has lost a loved one through corona virus, stay in touch. It is important to relate to people with similar experiences. If you know more than one person you may even want you try to form a phone or virtual group. Maybe there is a hospital social worker who could help you if several of you were acquainted through the hospital.

     *Reach out for help if you feel the need. You can call your primary care doctor for a referral to a professional counselor or agency. Or reach out to your local county or state mental health departments. Now during this time, many counties and states are advertising crisis phone lines during corona virus briefings. U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK. Do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Grief is not a journey you can make alone.
     *Pray even if you are not any particular faith. This is a time when being spiritual can bring you great comfort. Many religious services are being streamed and taped and are or TV. Now would be a good time to reach out to see if you would find some comfort. 

     My sincere sympathy, condolences and prayers to all individuals and families worldwide affected by this pandemic. May a merciful God be with you to support, strengthen and heal you. May God continue to strengthen and protect all first responders, health care personnel, hospital workers, medical researchers, essential workers and our leaders worldwide. 

                          "There are things we don't want to happen but have to accept,  
                            things we don't want to know but have to learn,
                            and people we can't live without but have to let go."
                                                                                                 Author Unknown