Coping with the Covid-19 pandemic has been stressful. We have had fear and anxiety about a new disease, social distancing, feeling isolated and alone, mask-wearing, going out among people and the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Many people are experiencing grief during this pandemic. You may feel grief due to a loss of a job, inability to connect-in-person with family, friends or religious organizations, missing special events and milestones such as: graduations, weddings, vacations, drastic changes to daily routines and ways of life that usually bring us comfort and a feeling of stability. Common grief reactions include: shock, disbelief, denial, anxiety, distress, anger, periods of sadness, or changes in sleep or eating patterns.
Adolescents may also experience grief in ways that are both similar to and different than children and adults. Adolescents may experience significant changes in their sleep patterns, isolate themselves more, frequently appear irritable or frustrated, withdraw from usual activities or engage more frequently with technology. It is important for parents or caregivers to engage with their adolescents over their grief to promote healthy coping and acceptance.
Acknowledge your losses and your feelings of grief.
Find ways to express your grief. Some people express grief and find comfort through art, gardening, writing, talking to friends and family, cooking or music.
Consider developing new rituals in your daily routine to stay connected with your loved ones to replace those that have been lost.
Draw comfort from your faith. Reach out to your church family.
Look after your physical and emotional needs. The mind and body are connected. When you feel healthy physically, you’ll be better able to cope emotionally.
Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising.
Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially.
Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isn’t always easy as they share many symptoms, but there are ways to tell the difference. Grief involves a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. With depression the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.
Other signs of depression include: an intense, pervasive sense of guilt, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, slow speech and body movements, or the inability to function at home, work and/or school.
If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find your depression getting worse, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Depression can be treated and you can feel better.
If you experience thoughts of suicide or preoccupation with death –
get help immediately - CALL 911
Thanksgiving is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. The CDC offers the following considerations to help protect individuals, their families, friends and communities from COVID-19. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved.
Lower risk activities
Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
Watching sports events, parades and movies from home
Moderate risk activities
Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community *lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs
Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced and people can maintain social distancing
Avoid these higher risk activities
Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
Attending crowded parades attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household
Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
It is with mixed emotions I write this last newsletter article. After serving as your parish nurse for the past 24 years, I am retiring.
The new position will be called the Schuylkill County Elderly Health Advocate and Administrator of Marion C. Price Trust Fund.
Please be assured that caring for elderly Episcopalians will continue to be the focus of this position, only the name has changed.
We plan to introduce her to as many of you as possible during her weeks of orientation. We will visit church services. Unfortunately, in this day of COVID, personal introductions will be difficult.
I have learned courage, strength, faith and love from all that I have met along the way and I thank you for allowing me into your homes and your lives.
I wish you all God speed, a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and safe New Year. You are in my heart forever.