This week I finished reading the book “Hum If You Don’t Know the Words” by Bianca Marais. I was incredibly touched by the ending. Normally such an ending would make me tear up; however, this time I found myself sobbing at the book’s poignant and beautiful conclusion.
After I finished the book, I started watching the Today Show, and they featured a story about Dr. Lorna Breen. Dr. Breen was an ER doctor on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. This past week, she took her own life. Again, the tears flowed down my face.
As I sat listening to this tragic story, I realized the magnitude of the situation we are in right now. Was my heightened emotional response to the book and the Today Show just a coincidence? Probably not. I realized I was feeling some of the emotional effects of isolation.
While we are focused on our physical health, our mental health deserves just as much attention during this pandemic. We may be able to still talk on the phone, text, FaceTime, Zoom, etc., however those aren’t replacements for face-to-face human connection. So that component, compounded with the inability to conduct “normal life,” is having an overwhelming negative effect on people’s mental health and wellness right now. Even those of us who are typically homebodies are feeling the strain.
Taking care of ourselves and encouraging those around us to care for themselves is critical. During our Zoom staff meeting yesterday, I asked the staff to share what they are doing to keep themselves healthy, and what they are doing to help others. Every single person participated. I am confident each staff person walked away with a new tool to help them or a loved one cope with the situation we find ourselves in today.
If you are struggling, I encourage you to reach out for help. There are many resources in our community, including our very own Jewish Family Services. All communication and services are confidential. You can contact JFS Director Tara Feiner at email@example.com for more information. The Israel Trauma Coalition also has excellent information about coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for more information.
I wanted to leave you with something one of our community members recently shared with me.
Daily Quarantine Questions:
- What am I GRATEFUL for today?
- Who am I CHECKING IN ON or CONNECTING WITH today?
- What expectations of “normal” am I LETTING GO OF today?
- How am I GETTING OUTSIDE today?
- How am I MOVING MY BODY today?
- What BEAUTY am I either creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?
As you reflect on these questions, please remember this: It may feel like the situation we find ourselves in will never end, but it WILL end. Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat.
To receive Cathy’s WHIM in your inbox each week, click here.