Apart Together - Some Thoughts About Isolation
The Covid-19 Pandemic has caused harm to the health of millions and we all hope for a reliable remedy as soon as possible, but the negative effects of this virus reach far beyond the physical implications. The physical suffering is often exacerbated by separation, loneliness and isolation as illness and suspected exposures mandate quarantine and isolation. Hospitals, Assisted Living Facilities, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Board and Care Homes have tightened their visitation policies in an abundance of caution to curtail the spread of the virus in their facilities. I have counseled with many families that are dealing with the frustration of not being able to visit their loved ones due to visit restrictions. The frustration sometimes turns to anger as they vent their feelings. It is a helpless feeling to think that so many are alone in these facilities, and even more grim to realize that some are dying alone amidst the restrictions and protocols that keep their family and friends away.
If you search the internet for information about the affects of separation and isolation you will find numerous articles and blog posts that offer a variety of ideas, facts and opinions. Research clearly shows that isolation effects our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. There are few other issues that touch so many aspects of our lives. So, with this understanding, we must find ways to cope with the feelings, thoughts and negativity of isolation.
How can we help those who feel isolated?
With physical distancing protocols in place around the world, the World Health Organization has posted some ideas to help others during this time of separation and isolation:
- Knocking on a neighbor’s door and staying a safe distance away, or calling them on the telephone, to remind them that they have nearby support.
- Setting up regular phone calls or video chats can also help decrease feelings of loneliness.
- Sending someone care packages is another way to stay connected.
- People looking after vulnerable individuals can pick up medications or drop off groceries and other essentials at their doorstep.
- Participating in online activities with other people can promote a feeling of connection and decrease loneliness.
- Socializing from a distance, such as via online platforms, can help ease feelings of loneliness and prevent its complications, especially for people who are vulnerable.
How are we to cope with our own feelings of isolation, loneliness, separation and loss?
- We are never truly alone - No matter how isolated and far away you may feel, God is always there. He never leaves us.
- Focus on positives. - Occupy your mind with uplifting, happy thoughts like reminiscing about your favorite memories, reading, music, pictures, movies and videos - anything that brings a smile to your heart.
- It won’t last forever - Even though it seems like this pandemic will last forever... it won't. It will be over one day. Use this time wisely to work on you. Take this opportunity to make you a better you!
- We are more alike than different - You may feel like you are all alone with your feelings of isolation, separation and sadness, but there are many others who are feeling it too. Though we are all different in our likes and dislikes, our looks and our identities, we all feel the pain of these emotions, and truly we are more alike than we are different.
And for those who have lost someone dear to you during this pandemic, I am truly sorry for your loss. Grief and loss are often a part of our lives, but the pain of losing someone to this virus is deep and my heart goes out to you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Finally; this world has disconnected us in many ways long before this pandemic struck. People have closed themselves off to the world and hidden behind walls and locked doors. This pandemic has further thickened the walls of separation that have long stood between us and our neighbors, so during this time, and hopefully we will soon emerge from this episode of isolation, but perhaps we can make a greater effort to stay connected once we come out of this thing. Let’s look for ways to connect with others and reduce the effect of loneliness on people’s mental health. Reaching out to loved ones, friends, takes many forms today; mail, phone and text, email, social media, video chat platforms.
Whatever way you feel comfortable in reaching out to those who are important to you, just do it! Get connected and stay connected!
As we navigate the waters ahead, let’s always remember that although we may not be able to be in the same place, we are in the same boat. We may be apart, but we are all in this together. We will make the best of it, and somehow we will be better for it... and we will be better in spite of it!
Let’s find comfort and strength in the fact that we are Apart Together.