Peacefully Coexisting With COVID-19: Part 5, It IS Tough

During this time of “pandemic jail” I participate in many learning opportunities and conversations about suicide, grief, and this pandemic; I cry most days; I laugh each day; all because that’s who I am.  So again, I’m here, sharing some of the meaning I make related to this pandemic time.  Plus, an article and a song about what to expect of oneself during this strange time.  And a joke.

We each live with the variety of harsh experiences, beautiful highlights, and what’s between those points, that we’ve experienced in our lives up to this moment.  This COVID-19 global pandemic is unlike any previous traumatic event in the world for reasons including: this virus is happening across the globe, not just in one location; there is not yet a clear ending time; the lack of effective governmental leadership in the USA; needing physical distancing as an important tool for preventing the spread of this virus; in the USA alone, as of this hour, over 66,000 people’s deaths are attributed to this virus; and the internet means quick spread of fact and fiction, love and hate.

All of us already living with grief and other traumatic experiences plus empathy for other beings, may experience the impacts of those more intensely with the quantity of references to death and trauma that we are exposed to daily in personal conversations as well as in media.  Those who live alone may be more intensely impacted due to reduced in-person time and physical touch from safe friends-family.  People of color, and people in other vulnerable populations, are experiencing more verbal and physical aggression, and even more physical violence, as well as very limited access to healthcare for any type of need, complicating their suicide grief.  This is not just hypothetical; this is the truth of living in the USA. Yes, this is a very hard time, and we absolutely need to try to be kind to ourselves and others.

And I’m certain that I am not alone in feeling annoyed-to-infuriated by messages that hint at ~ or yell ~ pressure to stay on the bright side. Yeah, no, not always!  So, I’m sharing a couple of recent finds that resonate with me, to remind you that you are not alone in feeling challenged by life in this time of the pandemic.

This article: How To Survive A Plague: (Hint) You’re Doing Too Much
“To summarize: grieve, eat, sleep, numb out as needed. And instead of aiming for positivity or productivity, focus on being kind – to yourself, and to the ones you love.”

This song available on the Facebook of singer-songwriter Cosy Sheridan:
It’s instructive how we come apart”

And still, because as I say, “Without laughter, we explode and that’s just not pretty!” … As many days as possible: Notice some beauty.  Be the goodness in someone’s day.  Do something good-for-you.  Explore nature around your home, or beyond if you have access, including through the internet. (I’m in Kansas and this is a particularly beautiful spring.)  Laugh!  Watch or listen to some comedy; share a joke.  If you are able, cook and eat something beautiful, healthy, and tasty.  (If you need help securing food or other items, please ask for help.) When realistic for you, make at least some of your purchases from small local businesses, including local farms and bookstores.  Write a letter to someone special to you.  If you have access, use videocall for some of your conversations with friends-family.  Encourage people to get informed and VOTE in upcoming elections, local to national.  Finding ways of having some positive impact is especially important in times of uncertainty.

OK, so this joke: A frog goes into a bank. They approach the person at the loan desk and notice that their name tag reads “Patty Whack.” The frog says, “Excuse me, I’d like to apply for a loan.”  The banker, very surprised that a talking frog was in their bank, said, “We only work with humans; no animals can get loans here. Besides, you would need to have collateral.”  The frog pulled a little china elephant out of their pocket and handed it to the banker. ” My father knows your bank president and I have this for collateral.” The banker became flustered and excused themselves to speak with the bank’s president. The banker explained, “There is a frog at my desk asking for a loan. They say their father knows you and this elephant is their collateral.” The bank president said, “It’s a knickknack, Patty Whack! Give the frog a loan!  Their old man’s a Rolling Stone!”

Please, do the things that keep you and those you encounter, and those they encounter, as safe as possible from this virus. As long as people in the USA are still lacking access to testing, treatment, and vaccination; preventing the spread of this virus is primarily up to each individual. And as the poet Gwendolyn Brooks said, “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

Some sources of Coronavirus / COVID-19 information
1) Whatever Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of USA’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says
2) World Health Organization
3) USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4) The governmental health departments local to you

Previous blogs in this series include suggestions and supports for these times.

Love really IS the answer!
Marcia Epstein, LMSW
Lawrence, Kansas, USA

PS I served from October 1979 – November 2013 as the Director of Headquarters, Inc., aka Headquarters Counseling Center, the free, 24/7 counseling center in Lawrence, Kansas. In 2001, Chad Sublet and I started the first Disaster Mental Health Team for Emergency Management of any county in Kansas. Currently, I provide individual, “family,” and group support for all those experiences with suicide, as well as for grief from other causes, and support for other life changes. I live with suicide grief, among other experiences of the harder kind. As well as much love and beauty. My experience and expertise in the area of crisis support and management continues to grow. However, knowing that stuff does not buffer me from the impacts of trauma. It lets me know I’m still a caring human.