Cynthia L. Eppley, MA
Many people are tired of COVID and social distancing. Social distancing may be the new word for 2020, but everyone knows what it means. The implications of separation are taking a toll on us.Take a quick look on Instagram or Facebook and you’ll see people doing crazy things to pass the time. Half of the time we don’t know what day it is. Or whether or not we washed our face or brushed our teeth.
What is Happening?
I’m noticing people losing it. At 30 days of isolation, people were reacting strongly. I’m not even sure what day we’re up to now: 60? 70?
Why is this so hard?
We Take so much for Granted
Perhaps we take for granted the simple run to WaWa or Starbucks. Or stopping for the paper. Many are working from home and so they miss the camaraderie of work. Or after work, we may go out for dinner and drinks with friends.
This casual social easiness is not available to us now.
Our “connectedness” with others has been truncated.
Easter dinner? Forget it.
Mother’s Day? Not happening.
But the fact is that some people are still getting together. They may very well be 6 ft. apart. While others decide to stay home altogether.
I talked to one neighbor who noticed this discrepancy and it weighed on her heavily:
“I’m just having a bad day. I really wanted to be with my family. They are all together, but we can’t be. Our county has too many cases.”
It was a bitter pill to swallow.
We just passed Memorial Day and I could hear families celebrating together. While I was happy for them, I was a bit wistful. Were they wearing masks? Were they 6 ft. apart? Were hugs allowed? Hearing the laughter of children intensified my own longing to see family.Memorial Day 2020
And it is all taking a toll on our mental health.
Our loss in this Pandemic can lead into sorrow, despair, isolation, loneliness and depression. Loss in a Pandemic,Grief 101,Grief 102, How do we Get Through Quarantine?
Being out and in a regular schedule is part of good mental health. But with these systems cut out from under us, we become insecure. And trying to recognize it and identify it? Equally hard.
Several friends of mine are therapists and their schedules are maxed out with clients. And this is all through teleconferencing.
Students miss the companionship of their peers, and the Seniors? There will be another blog about their predicament.Senior Class 2020
If we can connect though media—why are we all losing it?
All of us are vulnerable to the solitude.
Check in Reality
I had a melt down on May 1. It was just a hard day, and so I reached out to my Facebook community to see how others were faring. This is not a scientific study, but it may show us a slice of humanity:
From a nurse: “I had an awful week last week. I was at work, dressed in my PPE and a mother accused me of contaminating her son. That was horrible for me. It took me several days to process that and let it go.”
This was so very sad for my friend. She is a dedicated nurse, and to have her motives and actions questioned were almost too much. (I must note: several of my friends on Facebook came to her defense thanking her for her work. They do not know each other; but they knew she needed support and encouragement.)
“Just over all kind of a not so great week. Very little motivation. Feel lazy and tired. I go through ups and downs throughout the week. The weather does make a difference. I’ve found myself talking to God out loud, here at home, when my mind starts to take me down a negative path. He has been helpful. Crying has also been a good release.”
“Today was good/bad. good – weather was nice and I went on a bike ride and confirmed kayak adventure tomorrow or Sunday. Bad in that even though our shut down is supposed to end near the end of May, most annual events in July have already been cancelled as well as many other local annual events that people look forward to. Now I am second guessing our road trip the end of May.”
“I had had about enough today and cancelled my appts for the day. I knew I wasn’t going to be helpful to anyone if I didn’t do so.”
“I feel like this week has been the hardest for me mentally. Cannot really pinpoint anything in particular…just really struggled.”
“Feeling better today. Taking it one day at a time. Not great, feeling depressed, irritated and unmotivated.”
“I’ve done okay so far. But today I noticed a malaise, a discontent, an uneasiness. And I don’t know how to shake it.”
And this note from Harvest USA nails it:
“Let’s consider the challenge of loneliness. Many people feel lonely whether or not they are physically distanced from others. For a lot of us, the challenge of this time is not so much being away from many people but being forced to relate more intensely to just a few people in our own households! Nevertheless, many are aware of a deep and enduring loneliness, a dull heartache arising from a sense of isolation, of not being affirmed, not being valued, not being desired, or not being known by anyone.” https://harvestusa.org/loneliness-in-a-time-of-social-distancing/#.XtLOuS-ZM1I
When someone reaches out and says, “Im not OK. I need help.”
Don’t try to fix them, or tell them they’re overreacting.
Don’t insinuate they’ve lost their faith, or judge the rawness of their emotions.
And for the love, don’t run off to tell everyone else, even under the guise of asking for prayers. When someone reaches out for help the only thing you should say is, I’m listening. (www.neitherheightnordepth.com)
Can we hear ourselves reflected in these posts? Can we hear the uneasiness, the longing to hug our children or grandchildren? The isolation and the loneliness?
Consider the song Blessings by Laura Story:
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights Are your mercies in disguise (https://youtu.be/XQan9L3yXjc)
Perhaps, all of the sorrow, loss, disappointment, and longing really is proof that there is something more, and Heaven is our home.
The fact that our hearts yearn for something earth can’t supply is proof that heaven must be our home. C.S.Lewis
Our hearts are restless. We long for, and yearn for that deeper connection. And this Pandemic has brought this to the surface.
Perhaps we can look to God and His creation to see the very foundation.
Genesis 1:26: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”
From the beginning of Scripture we see God in relationship with Himself. And then we observe:
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Could our very loneliness and solitude be a reflection of this Heavenly reality? God is in relationship with Himself. We are a reflection of Him. We are created in His image. And at the very foundation of who we are, we long for relationship. We long for Him.
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. C.S.Lewis