Love in the time of Covid-19
(with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of "Love in the Time of Cholera.")
This is one of the most challenging times I’ve ever lived through, and I’m … well, as my husband says, “mature” – much better than “old.”
[Sidenote: I’m incensed by the conversation that talks about “the elderly,” and then defines them as over 60. Good grief! Haven’t they heard that 60 is the new 40? ]
In any case, the challenges of this crisis are many, but one of the most significant, I think, is the forced intimacy in families and marriages – and this in a culture that is becoming increasing polarized and disconnected. Suddenly, we are forced to connect.
Never mind that this is a good thing. Never mind that there are aspects of this pandemic that will actually improve our society. Never mind that nine months from now we will experience a population boom like the one after World War II.
How do we survive it now?
So many aspects of our lives have changed, and done so in a flash. It’s hard to wrap your head around it all.
At Sanctuary Christian Counseling, we’ve been working hard on getting our online platform active – this has been in the planning stage for months, but necessity has pushed it from the backseat to the driver’s seat. We have finally gotten that platform up -- it is safe, secure and HIPAA compliant-confidential! (So send us an email, and we’ll set you up!)
However, we, like everyone around us, have to figure out how to live closer than we have in a long time, with those we love best.
How to get through the pandemic with your relationships not just intact, but improved?
Here are some suggestions from this licensed marriage and family therapist:
Have grace. Everyone is responding to the stress of today’s crisis in different ways. Don’t expect everyone will handle it like you do, whether you are freaking out or calm and collected, or somewhere in between. Especially with your family, be graceful and allow a free discussion of fears, thoughts and other feelings. Call a family meeting to see what you can do to support each other. Even if you are trying to socially distance yourself from everyone, the occasional hand on the shoulder or wink across the room can convey a world of support and love.
Find fun things to do. I’ve seen so many creative ways of coping as families and couples! My neighborhood did a “find the shamrock” hunt on St. Patrick’s Day. Many families posted a shamrock -- some lovingly homemade by the kids in the house, others more artfully created – in a window, and others counted them up (some even took pictures) as they walked or rode by. There are many, many other ideas for connecting that can be found on search engines like Pinterest and Google. Be creative. Now is a great time to try something new and be inventive.
Find interesting ways to connect. My good friend, with whom I was to have lunch today, just texted me and asked if we could have a virtual Facetime date. One of my partners here at Sanctuary and I have talked about having a cup of coffee together to discuss our new ventures. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a Facebook page or something of the same sort so that you can communicate with those around you safely, set one up.
Remember physical activity. As I look out my window, I see a myriad of people running, biking and walking around our neighborhood. Not only does this get those helpful endorphins flowing, it also changes our perspectives. Everything looks better when you’ve exercised, no matter how gently or vigorously. And the family can do it together – make it a game, if you have small ones, looking for a dogwood tree, say, or a specific kind of leaf, twig or sign.
Talk to your loved ones. Reminisce. Remember times you’ve been together and what you did. Look at photos, at albums or scrapbooks, whatever you have. If you have the means at home, put pictures or momentos into scrapbooks or photo albums. Talk about your family history.
Think about, and plan for the future. Looking forward is a panacea for scary times. One day this be over. Of course we don’t know what our world will look like then, but people are resilient and it will probably be very similar to what it was several weeks ago. Maybe even better in significant ways. Don’t be afraid to affirm life and plan ahead. Knowing there’s something to look forward to is always helpful when you go through difficulties.
Take care of yourself, and help your family take care of themselves, too. Keep to a routine. Exercise, eat and sleep as normally as you can. Monitor your mental health. If the news makes you crazy, stop listening. If you are going stir-crazy, take yourself into a different room of your home (if you can) or outside – someplace you rarely go, and do the things you normally do there – it will feel different. Urge everyone in your household to make sure everyone is okay.
This will end. We will survive, most of us. Someday this will be a series of anecdotes about what we did when … and we will remember it, either with reflection that there was a silver lining or that it was not our finest moment. The steps we take now will define our future memories.
Make them good ones.
If you are struggling, we are online, and we would love to talk to you.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling
[physical address doesn’t matter]