For those of you who checked up on me these last few weeks, thank you. It’s crazy (and kinda flattering) that you missed me.
I’ve been supporting someone who is going through the toughest time of her life–and a tougher time than anyone should ever have to go through, really. And that is more important than my blog. Sometimes in life you have to prioritize.
It’s not my story to tell, so I’ll leave it at that, but allow me to say that I’m learning a lot about resilience and love.
As much as I’m learning, I’m doing a poor job applying those messages. I’m sorry. I’m just angry.
I’m angry someone I care about is going through something awful. I’m angry that COVID is making her challenge even more challenging. Angry that it’ll be a while before I can hop on a plane to go back to Atlanta to see her because airlines aren’t sticking to their promise of keeping the middle seats open.
Oh, I’m angry about COVID in general. Angry that nursing home residents can’t leave their rooms. Angry that no one seems to care when old people die–it’s their time anyway, right?
Angry that people are mocking the pandemic and intentionally planning events that violate social distancing policies. Angry that last week I saw a bouncy house birthday party when I was out for a walk–and there were about a dozen kids in that bouncy house with about 20 adults surrounding it. Angry that our country is torn into two groups: the “masks” and the “no masks.”
I’m angry that people are dying alone.
I’m angry that all of this seems to have been turned into a political issue that’s pulling us apart.
Maybe COVID is on the decline in your area of your country, but I live in a state that has a later peak. Nursing homes, in particular, are reporting new cases.
There are nursing homes that are doing a great job managing the challenges of COVID. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have any COVID cases. It means their employees have heart, and they are doing the best they can to serve the needs of residents who may be scared and lonely without the presence of family.
Many of my college students work in nursing homes. They come to work early and leave late so that they can help residents Facetime and Zoom their families. They sit and visit with residents who are frightened by staff in masks and personal protective equipment. They make me proud.
They understand that many residents watch the news religiously and are aware of the risks involved in living in a nursing home. They understand that other residents (with dementia) have little understanding of COVID and do not get why no one visits them, why everyone is wearing a mask, and why they can’t leave eat in the dining center. Why is bingo cancelled?
I hear of situations in nursing homes that anger me. (I guess anger is my word of the day, right?) There was a nursing home out east that didn’t report resident COVID deaths…in fact they just stored the bodies and didn’t notify families. I was stunned to read about this–and I wish more people had been stunned along with me.
People haven’t been as appalled as they should be. Imagine if this were a school or daycare. I’m not convinced this country cares about old people unless they happen to be related to us.
Old people don’t matter….except for my grandma.
Sometimes I wake up at night in the midst of a bad dream that I can’t really remember. I have a sense of anger about something that happened in my dream that I can’t remember.
I am overwhelmed at the cruelty the universe can inflict on good people.
Sometime after 9/11, I saw the following quote:
“When I was a boy, I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find the people who are helping.’ ” –Fred Rogers
That’s stuck with me, and it helps me find a bit of peace when the world is upside down, but it’s not enough lately. There are so many COVID helpers and so much positive news of amazing people making a difference. I see that and I appreciate it. But my appreciation doesn’t decrease my anger.
I’ve been struggling to find meaning. I know they say everything happens for a reason. How do you tell a young woman who can’t visit her husband in the ICU that everything happens for a reason? What about the lady I saw on the news talking about losing her husband and then both of her parents to COVID within a month? Are you able to look her in the eye and say everything happens for a reason?
My anger isn’t productive. I’m not proud of it. It needs to hit the road. I know that. And I’m working on it.
In fact, tomorrow I plan to go buy some hanging baskets of flowers to make my yard a more pleasant setting. In my mind, this will take my anger down a notch. Maybe even two.
I want to be one of those helpers. I can’t do it if I’m angry. My anger doesn’t serve myself, and it doesn’t serve others. I need to get past it and get a good night’s sleep.
But it’s not that easy.
I want to know that we care about old people and those who have health problems. I want to know that we all grieve with families who have lost a loved one–even if we are eager to get back to our everyday lives. I want to know that we are willing to make small sacrifices moving forward if it means looking out for people who might be immunocompromised.
I just want to know that we care.
I’m angry so many people just don’t care.
If you are looking for an article summarizing how the pandemic is impacting those with dementia and their loved ones, here’s a good one: