Many religions are observing their spring holy days while COVID-19 marches on. As of this morning, there were more than 1.5 million reported cases of COVID-19 globally, and more than 90,000 deaths. The U.S. has the highest number of confirmed cases by far, at nearly 433,00o. There have been nearly 15,000 deaths in this country.
These numbers are expected to peak nationally on Easter weekend, April 11-12. Projected peaks vary by cities and regions; click here to see when COVID-19 is expected to peak in your area. Notes about the information in this link:
- This info changes as real data are collected.
- These projections assume that social distancing and stay-at-home orders will be in place through the end of May.
- It also assumes that states who haven’t yet instituted stay-at-home and social distancing measures will do so within a week.
- The projections are through early August.
How do we live with this tragedy? I look at these numbers, hear the stories, and see the photos of body bags, and I want to curl in to a ball and cry. I’ve done a lot of weeping this past month.
I have also experienced a great deal of joy and gratitude. Some of my fellow humans are doing great acts. Health care workers, grocers, farmers, elected officials, scientists, garbage collectors, elevator mechanics, chefs, the media, delivery people, people who work with animals, and so on, risk their lives so our lives can continue. Teachers are doing incredible work from their homes. People are making masks, donating money, home schooling their children, serving their neighbors, contacting friends, and entertaining us. We are holding each other up.
Sometimes it isn’t enough. There are moments when I just don’t feel up to the task of bearing this awful reality. Those are the moments that I need an attitude adjustment. The truth is that I am not on the front lines. No one in my circle has been seriously injured by COVID-19. I live in a beautiful remote area with hardly any reports of coronavirus. I have food, a wonderful husband, internet, a roof over my head, and love in my heart. So what is my problem?
The problem is that we are all living in a pandemic and except for a few people over 102 years old, we have never done this before. Although I have it good, I am not immune to human suffering. The world is under a high level of stress all at once, and stress is contagious.
I contribute to the problem. Some days I step in to the deep end and get immersed in the news. Too much information and screen time aren’t healthy. I need more walks, more meditation, more quiet time during this pandemic. Instead, I turn to my phone, watching this virus engulfing our world.
When I have those moments, the first thing I need to do is acknowledge my feelings. There may be silver linings in this pandemic, but this is not the time to spin the reality. If I need a cry or a good temper tantrum, I let myself go there. Once that is over with, I ask myself two questions:
- How can I help myself?
- How can I help others?
I start with myself because I can’t help others if I am drowning. Helping myself starts by hitting the reset button. A few deep, mindful breaths helps. Turning away from media and going for walk or having a cup of tea or doing something that has nothing to do with COVID-19 also helps.
Sometimes I use this virus as an opportunity to create. Every day, I write a coronavirus haiku. (Posted on Instagram hepcnurse) On week days I meditate with people all over the world via Ten Percent Happier. I highly recommend this. (It’s free.)
This blog is an attempt to help others. Other ways to help range from checking on friends and family to helping others get in to Zoom meetings. I am active with some nonprofits, and seem to be busier than ever. Every week I send money to someone or an organization that needs it. I also help others by staying at home.
These are challenging times, filled with uncertainty. Maintaining our mental health along with our physical health is paramount. Physical distancing is our most important public health tool right now, but this practice doesn’t serve our emotional needs. We are tribal beings, and even loners need others. Find a way to stay connected, and if you find yourself drowning, grab on to a life preserver. Helpers are all around us, willing to toss a safety line to those who need it.