I clung to the hope that my son’s last debate tournament of the season wouldn’t be canceled. Then even that hope was dashed, and I went to tell him the news he’d already learned from his teammates on Google Chat.
It was a small thing, a microcosm of what we are all experiencing together across the country. Weddings canceled, graduations, celebrations of all kinds. And worse—families that need to gather and say goodbye to a loved one are unable to come together to grieve.
There’s a lot to mourn. It isn’t over yet, and the world won’t look the same for most of us ever again.
But there is a lot to learn from, and a lot to savor in these months, however long they last.
We have people to love. Even as a tight-knit homeschooling family, we spend a good deal of time outside the home with friends, in various activities, at our jobs. While we can’t wait to get back to these things and people we miss, we have drawn closer to each other and learned how to help each other weather the fear and anxiety of this time. Sometimes we push each other’s buttons and must seek forgiveness and understanding. But at the end of the day, this is a time for building strength in our closest relationships.
We learn who and what is important. I’ve connected with old friends using technology, phoning friends I don’t usually talk with much, and participating in Zoom chats with people I haven’t seen in a long time. My extroverted daughter has discovered the joys of doing homework with a friend (over Skype) and organized her book group meeting to continue over video chat.
We are paying attention to history and stories from the past. So many of the stories my grandparents told me have come into my mind, and I’m grateful that I have written records of them. Stories of the Great Depression and periods of hardship, pain, and want, remind us that we are not alone in this, that others who went before us experienced shortages, lost income, and illness.
If you are exhausted and overwhelmed at this stage, here are five things to try.
Rest. Most of us are a little sleep deprived. While it is important not to let go of good habits, make allowances for sleepy teenagers, and take this time to lay down next to a squirmy toddler who needs to nap but can’t seem to settle down. Sit for a while with a cup of tea and do very little.
Pray. Being quiet in prayer has been a life-long struggle for me. This season has focused me more on the needs of others (the sick, the unemployed, the exhausted health-care workers, first responders, and truck drivers, and others) and the helplessness of all of us. It is a good time to work on prayer.
Read. I’ve always read to my children, and to my husband on long car trips. My ten-year-old told me this week how much it means to have me read to her each night. Right now, I’m a fan of series that require courage in extraordinary circumstances and put our current lives in perspective. It’s a great time for The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Little House Series (The Long Winter anyone?) and a new favorite, The Mistmantle Chronicles.
Watch. My kids are old enough now to appreciate MacGyver, an old series from my youth. We found it on a streaming site, and we break out the popcorn, make a fire, and watch it together a couple of nights a week.
Help. Our awareness of others’ needs is heightened during this season. We are all thinking of those who live alone and feel isolated and taking time to make more phone calls and write more notes. We remember we still have food on the table and the heat is on, and we share through giving directly and through our church with those for whom these things are harder to come by. We look for ways to encourage the friends and family working on the front lines who are exhausted and whose families share the stress with them.
How are you and your family coping?
Photo credit: iStock.