As time marches on in this COVID-19 world, life is becoming more challenging. While we are all becoming accustomed to the “protocol,” many, perhaps most, of us don’t want to become accustomed to “it.”
The masks, the temperature checks, the exposure questions, the monitoring, all of that seems almost ordinary by now.
And at the same time, the emotional toll this has taken is staggering.
- Last week one of my clients summed it up well when he said, “for my own sanity, I have to believe and act as though this is temporary.”
- A friend of mine who is a psychotherapist, and was planning to retire, told me, “if I wanted to work 24×7, I could;” her phone doesn’t stop ringing.
The most telling sign of how tired we all are of the loss of life as we knew it, is the loss of humor. Before, when things didn’t go as we expected, or even when egregious things happened, we usually found a way to laugh. No more.
Everyone is humorless for different reasons, same storm, different boats. For some, it is personal, losing a loved one, even if not from the virus, and not being able to mourn in the usual way; or not being allowed to visit an ill friend or relative in the hospital. For others, the pain may be economic, losing all or a portion of the family income or business income. Finally, there are some for which the loss is one of freedom and leisure. Bottomline worldwide, or at least what I see in my tiny part of the world, is we all feel a sense of loss.
In the beginning, we banded together, much as we did after 9/11. I remember traveling to Europe soon after 9/11 and feeling the warmth and support from everyone we met. I saw the same amongst colleagues, families, and friends back in March and April. Everyone showed their support with Zoom cocktail hours, and the like. We frequently connected with friends and family worldwide, and it felt wonderful. A hidden benefit, we said, of the pandemic.
Now that we are several months into this, Zoom has become a grind, we are on it all day, we crave a break, some real connection, and it feels elusive. Some choose to create the connection anyway; the risk feels worth it, “my mental health is as important as my physical health,” they say. Others choose to continue to isolate and protect their physical health.
Most of us say we respect each person’s right to be themselves and choose that which gives them comfort. Yet, we can be quick to judge when someone in our inner circle makes a different choice than we do.
What to do?
Frankly, I don’t have the answers; I am challenged with this myself. What I do know is it has become clear that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Each day, I remind myself to find opportunities to laugh and be grateful, take my judgments lightly, and look for opportunities to be in service to others. I don’t succeed every day, and I plan to keep trying.