Pandemic Lessons

When the name COVID-19 came into the popular lexicon I associated it with other infectious diseases that had touched the shores of our nation during my lifetime. Swine Flu, H1N1, Avian Flu. All of these diseases caused brief interruptions in our common life and then quickly faded into the background.

Like many, I assumed that in a month or two life would return to normal. How wrong I was.

Indeed, the only reason I remember H1N1 is because restrictions on entering our local hospital meant that 2 year old Nathan couldn’t come and see his newLike many, I assumed that in a month or two life would return to normal. How wrong I was.born sister while. Otherwise, my memory of these events is foggy at best. Like many, I assumed that in a month or two life would return to normal. How wrong I was.

The COVID pandemic has changed life in so many ways and for so many people. It remains to be seen precisely how many of these changes are permanent. My sense is that it will be more of them than perhaps we realize.

Here is my list of lessons learned.

We have to acknowledge that the world has changed, and we need to keep acknowledging it.

  • Change is hard. We all know that change is challenging. What we’re learning again is that multiple changes–in how we work, how we shop, where we eat, what we wear or can’t wear–exponentially increase the pressure and the stress of transition.
  • Continual change is exhausting. We live with information paralysis. There is so much information available to us that we no longer have good tools to help us discern what is true, accurate, helpful, and current. With infiormation changing hourly, we have a difficult time keeping up with it. This leads to exhaustion.
  • Selfcare is essential. You’re not much good to anyone else if you’re falling apart. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.
  • Family is key. Nuclear and extended family has become the focal point of my life over the last year. I would have always said it was number one or two on my priority list, but in the midst of chaos we all need to know that our loved ones are okay.
  • It’s okay to pivot. I made a number of decisions last year based on the assumption that 2020 would look virtually the same as 2019. Some of those decisions have to be revisited in light of this new reality. That’s okay.
  • Naming reality is important. I remain convinced that few people have accurately captured the depth and extent of the stress and trauma that COVID 19 has put on the world population. Some of that’s because we’ve been focusing on major issues of justice, voting, etc. We have to acknowledge that the world has changed, and we need to keep acknowledging it.

What lessons have you learned over the last year?

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