Our Disparate Reality And Our Collective Grief:
Some of us will not touch our moms for one last time in a hospital before a stranger will bury her as we watch from a few feet away. Many of us will not visit our loved ones for months on end. And most of us, will not hug our friends for the foreseeable future.
If the pandemic has affected you deeply, I want you to think of all those who’re elderly, those who’re going through cancer and are in the military already experiencing extreme isolation on a daily basis. I request you to not forget those scores of people who’re scared, yet have to go into work every single day.
According to the 2018 US Census Bureau, 28% of all American homes are single-person households, and by every estimate those numbers are growing. And those of us who’re lucky enough to have family living with us also tend to become lonely sometimes. But, here’s the thing, we’re all united as one global family in our collective grief in Covid.
The point is, I want you to bring into your narrative a perspective that will help you bear your reality. It is a fact that you’re reality might be strange, you were not able to attend prom, you were not handed over your diploma on stage, and you didn’t party your way into your freshman semester. But, for a lot of us life is much more dire than our expectations and aspirations not being met.
More than ever, we feel more wiped out, because this is not a self-inflicted isolation at our whim, but it’s being shoved down our throats.
Gender Norms Encroach Into Lockdown:
A woman can’t have it all, or can she? Pre Covid, the extent of our discussion around equality for women in the workforce meant, equal pay and equal chances of advancement as their male peers. With Covid, record number of women are quitting their jobs, because the cost of being a teacher, a cook, and a 24/7 caregiver are just too overwhelming to bear.
And the other thing about men is that research has shown that men spend very little time doing unpaid work. It’s because when it comes to their paid work, the workplace expects their undivided attention. As a result, men feel pressure to prioritize work that pays bills over child care and household chores.
With another round of potential school closures looming, those parents who’ve been sending their children to schools face-to-face are bracing for a huge impact on their schedules and their energies.
Here’s the thing. It’s funny, but children will ask the mom for homework help, our dishes in the sink are pretty self-explanatory, but no one will come to our rescue unless we ask for it. Pandemic, if anything, seems to be fortifying our gender roles. We can blame authorities, we can accuse of others of cruelty, but pandemic is teaching us how to parent all over again. So, it’s time to seek help, because grandparents are too busy to fuss over us anyway. What choice do we have?
What To Tell Our Children:
What we remember about the Covid might be drastically different than what our children will hold in their memories. While our schools are closing, we have no money and work, while we’re constantly running out of cleaning supplies and toilet paper, and almost dying a few times each day of burnout, our children are busy living each day as it unfolds.
So, let’s get busy with them with hikes, picnics and making forts, all the things that they care about than those awful headlines that stare at us each day.
There’s so much work to do anyway, where’s the time to fret? We must help them understand how the quality of their focus, their sleep and their digital lives will dictate the trajectory of their lives. We must teach them how to manage expectations, why having a strong personal value system is important and the real reason behind parental impatience and exhaustion.
We must cultivate and nurture them so they develop into a curious, compassionate and good citizen of the community. So, as you’re navigating your daily grind, don’t forget to tell them how much they’re helping you preserve your sanity.
A Time To Come Together:
Can there be a blue print for something no one knows how to cope with? There might not be, but we can do a few things that can convert our irrational fears into tales of compassion.
We can begin by peeling ourselves out of the burnout and becoming other focused. We can support those who’re living through grief and loss of loved ones. We can collapse under pressure or find joy in buying a meal from a friend’s restaurant because you know it won’t last long.
And we can avoid media like the plague itself of become hedonistic and absurd with rage and keyboard courage. We can be irresponsible and contribute to the already full capacity morgues or show our gratitude to the front line folks like grocery shelf stockers and health care workers.
The Power of Acceptance and Hope in Covid:
When you look at it from another angle, we’ve been given a gift. A gift of few competing priorities on our time that we can spend cultivating new hobbies and going on long walks. People all over the world are creating and sharing more art than ever, cooking at home a lot, reading books, and reconnecting with long lost friends.
People are generating more awareness about mental health and there is guidance and counseling available for those who’re seeking it. The bottom line is that social distancing is a privilege that few of us can truly afford for a long period of time.
Everyone can keep their spirits high when life is smooth, you’ve a decent paycheck and you know what to expect tomorrow. But, we need to stay decent and composed because times are uncertain now. We need to keep moving inspite of the darkness. Pandemic can be the time for us to do the right thing and keep our commitment to one another and for our future generations.
We can take cues from Mother Nature and simply exist with unconditional trust, freedom and generosity in this shared space. It teaches us to reserve our judgments, perceptions, and just be accepting and content. It reminds us that we’re blessed to someday disintegrate and become one with it, because we’re now alive and thriving.
In the end, every emotion stems from within us. And how we react and respond to our circumstances is upto us. We can twist ourselves into knots worrying about the uncertain future or just simply feel gratitude for the mundane activities we are able to savor. And remember, this too shall pass.