These are unprecedented times. For the first time since the pandemic began, COVID deaths per week have surpassed those of cardiac disease. Daily, the news bombards us, spouting opinions about everything from everyone, and many face economic uncertainty. Also, many of us are struggling to decide whether or not to visit family over the holidays, and we live with the fear of becoming sick. We are angry. And all of these emotions are piled on top of our everyday stressors.
We continuously question ourselves, how will I cope, how will I manage, and how will I prevent myself from becoming so overwhelmed that I cannot continue? Sure, I know and practice everything I have been taught. Frequently, I reach out to loved ones; I allow myself to feel the pain and cry. Furthermore, I share my vulnerabilities to become closer to others. I exercise, and I attempt to implement logic when I find myself becoming illogical. I hug my wife and virtually hug my kids and parents. I fly off the handle, I scream, and at times, I utilize my strong spiritual grounding and faith.
Yet, sometimes, all of this does not seem like enough. What do you do then? Last week was a really hard week, nothing personally bad happened, but just a lot going on, and difficult situations to sort through on multiple fronts. Coupling this with the unbelievable anger I feel over our lack of acting in unison as a community to protect ourselves and each other, I reached the end of the week completely drained. Sure, there have been fabulous moments and progress during the week, but the emotions tend to drown out the good ones.
Then late on Friday, our Health System received a note from a patient’s family member sharing his recent experiences. From afar, he has managed the loss of his sister to COVID at one hospital while simultaneously, his mother succumbed to COVID at another. Here is a man who has lost both his sister and mother within a short period to an illness that many believe is rampant because of human behaviors. Even though he could not be with them, he chooses to share his gratitude versus his frustrations. Moreover, he wrote about how his sister was born at the same hospital where she passed. And he shared stories of both his loved ones’ care throughout the years. He relayed that even when dying, they were held in the community by staff. Furthermore, he praised the providers for how they had been meaningful in his mother and sister’s caregiving.
As I thought about this family member’s experience, many emotions hit me. How was it possible to feel so discouraged when, undoubtedly, others have it so much worse? Moreover, am I showing enough gratitude to others? Nonetheless, the strongest emotion I feel is one of courage that I must endure. Unequivocally, I am on this earth for a reason, and I must fulfill my task. And, I must allow myself to feel.
More importantly, I must be willing to be open to others’ help and support and accept the energy of all the good that is present. I must allow myself to be receptive to the grace around me and give others grace. If I am willing to accept this agency, I know I will be able to persevere. I am with all of you, as I know you are with me.