COVID-19 and….I don’t even know where I’m going with this

In the midst of this pandemic, I feel inadequate. I have nothing to offer you.

Except my apologies.

If you have COVID-19, I am so sorry.

If you suspect your have COVID-19 but can’t get a test, I am so sorry.

If you love someone who has COVID-19, I am so sorry.

If one of your loved ones has died of COVID-19, I am so sorry.

If you live in a nursing home and cannot see your family and friends, I am so sorry.

If you cannot visit your loved one in a nursing home, I am so sorry.

If work at a nursing home and are asked to go above and beyond when you are struggling yourself, I am so sorry.

If COVID-19 has caused a relapse (or a first bout) with anxiety or depression, I am so sorry.

If COVID-10 has exacerbated your obsessive-compulsive disorder, I am so sorry.

If you have an acute or chronic illness and have been unable to get adequate care because of COVID-19, I am so sorry.

If you have had to make difficult decisions about other people’s lives due to COVID-19, I am sorry.

If you are struggling financially due to COVID-19, I am so sorry.

If you have been discriminated against for your race due to COVID-19, I am sorry.

If you work in health care and have (reasonable) anxiety because you put yourself at risk at your job, I am so sorry.

I could go on. This pandemic has impacted each of us in unique ways. But if you are sitting around feeling sorry for yourself….it’s okay.

You can’t stay there forever, of course, but you are allowed to grieve — whether it’s for a death or for the realization that you won’t get to see your grandkids until after their next birthdays. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be pissed off. It’s okay to rage and to cry and then to laugh because it’s all so ridiculous.

Whatever you are feeling, I’m telling you right now that it’s okay.

And if you are feeling a million things all at the same time and then also feeling nothing at all….I’m right there in the same boat.

If you are scared, it’s understandable. If you’re confused, I get it. If you are feeling bored, overwhelmed, useless, sulky, or bitter, I’m right there with you.

I’m also feeling grateful. Grateful that I’m healthy, of course. Grateful for everyone who is following protocol by staying home. Grateful for those willing to work in health care in these tough times. Grateful that my mom and stepdad are taking recommendations seriously and I’m not having to argue with them about their behavior. Grateful that I started a program to bring art supplies to residents of nursing homes and people responded. Grateful that my husband and I are still talking after a couple weeks of being in the house together.

I’m doing okay, really. I know that others are not. I know it’s not going to get better soon. Maybe we learn to cope. Maybe we find new solutions to the challenges we are facing.

But I’m not a sunshine/unicorns/silver lining type of girl. I like to find hope in real life rather than in fantasies.

This isn’t going to be cleaned up by Easter, but I’m finding hope in the kindnesses I see. People taking care of their neighbors. People giving the last roll of toilet paper to the older couple behind them in line. People working in labs day and night to come up with interventions and vaccines. People sewing masks. People who own businesses and are putting humans among profit.

Maybe this virus sucks, but people don’t.

I’m going to cling to that because perhaps it’s the only way I’ll get through this.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, I hope you are somewhat okay. I’m worried about your physical health but I’m also concerned about your mental health.

Take care of other people, and take care of you as well.

 

XOXO,

Elaine

 

 

 

Published by Elaine M. Eshbaugh, PhD

Professor of Family Services & Gerontology at the University of Northern Iowa. http://www.uni.edu/csbs/sahs/gerontology/faculty-directory/elaine-m-eshbaugh-henninger

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