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Navigating Change, Expression & Connections During A Pandemic

Before the pandemic seemed so far away, but now it is completely in our faces. This pandemic has affected people in so many different ways. We have either tested positive with COVID, or someone in our family has tested positive, or a close friend, or a co-worker. If it is not in your home, it is close to home.

Things around us have shutdown, and some have lost their jobs, some of us have become teachers even though we have no credentials, or some of us have had to work from home. The pandemic is heart breaking, and it seems like there is no end to it due to the uncertainty that we face each day. What do we do with these feelings and emotions? How do we deal with them?

For me in regards to the social aspect, I talk to my neighbors from the end of my driveway, and at the end of each conversation we say how grateful we are to be neighbors, and we have made it a point to do this twice a week. This has allowed for a much-needed outlet of communication, and self-expression.

As for the emotional aspect, I am often hearing people say that they are overwhelmed, and feel like they have no control, but the way I look at it is, what part of it can I change? If the answer is nothing, then that is when I shift my focus. I urge you to think of things that you can do, for example, have those much-needed conversations with your family, and give yourself moments to write down your feelings. A lot of the time we don’t realize how we feel until we go back and review what we wrote down. Now, this doesn’t make you sick, or unreasonable, but when we allow ourselves to put our feelings out there it helps us to get through things. We have to acknowledge our emotions, to move forward with healing.

One of the challenges we have is that as adults we don’t fully understand what is going on, so how do we explain it to those younger than us? As we are trying to make sense of this for people in our lives, we have to first make sense of it ourselves. We have to acknowledge our feelings, and to further help us process our emotions we can utilize writing. Provide yourself with a space where you can be alone and reflect, and truly see how things in your life are impacting you. Usually we are aware that something is off, but we are unsure as to why. Write down whatever comes to your mind, read it over, and you will become more aware of what feelings, and thoughts you are dealing with. Once you are able to make sense of what you are thinking it becomes easier to talk to your loved ones about what is going on. So, how do we deal with sharing what is going on with our kids or grandchildren and not make it something that is unbearable or too scary, but something that we can get through together? What does that look like?

It could be just starting the conversation when you are together, and make sure there are no distractions like the TV. You can start the conversation in an easy way, “How are you feeling? What do you know about what is going on? What are you concerned about? Are you afraid?” Sometimes it is hard for kids to express their feelings, so starting this conversation can help to enlighten you to know what your kids or grandchildren are feeling. This aids in allowing your children to express themselves and feel validated, which can assist in improving the parent-child relationship.

For my family we get together and have a family game night, and we implemented this at least once per week, and then we get cozy and talk on the bed, and I ask my grandchildren questions, “How do you feel with what is going on?” “How do you feel about doing school from home?” Their answers highlight that they miss the interactions they had with their friends. As a grandparent, I am not even sure if they are getting all of their needs met. It is difficult to be a grandparent, parent, and also be your child’s teacher during this pandemic. However, if I am unsure as to how to help them with certain assignments I tell them if I can’t help I will find someone who can. Navigating this new way of living has been difficult on all of us, and focusing on the new things that we can incorporate into our lives and families’ lives helps to remind us that there are things we have control over, there are steps that we can take to feel connected to others, but the main thing that we have to remember is that it is going to look a little different than before. So, when you are feeling stuck, write down what you are feeling, verbalize your emotions, and find the things that you have control over. We are in this together!