This is one of those posts about COVID that will hang around on my blog and maybe in a year’s time I will look at it and look back and wonder how we managed during what has to be the strangest time we/I/the world has ever known.
We have watched as COVID has crept across the world. First in denial that there was anything other than a weird virus causing a bit of bother in China, then realising that the Chinese were actually taking it rather seriously, to “oh it won’t affect the rest of the world” to “ok, it’s causing issues in other countries now, maybe we need to worry” to “oh s**t, it might be a real problem here it comes to us” to the now the whole world dealing with a virus that is lethal to many groups of people and a world in “lockdown”.
We have survived being locked down in our homes. Unable to see friends, family, do the things we love, work, go out, go to school, socialise, access medical care properly, shop, the list goes on.
People have died or been seriously ill. People have and still are struggling with their mental health either as a result of this crisis or becoming worse due to the COVID crisis.
People have lost jobs, businesses, loved ones. People have been isolated.
Many people have been “shielding” to protect themselves from what the virus could do to them, or their loved ones. We have spent three months doing this, and now as we step out, it’s a process of trying to get back to whatever normal we now face and adapting. Some people still are shielding either because they have been told to, or because they still feel incredibly vulnerable to a virus that we don’t know enough about yet.
Lockdown and watching the virus hit was a process. People having to shut down their lives was a process no one has done before and took time to adapt to. Some people coped well. Some people have really struggled. There is no prescription for how to cope in a pandemic crisis. There is now “this is the best way to handle this”. We all have managed differently depending on our circumstances. You may or may not agree with how your government has handled this crisis and that is ok, but it can feel very personal when people around you are processing things differently from you.
As lockdown eases people are able to grasp at some vague normal. See friends, see family, get support, go out. Some of it is very needed. People have been very isolated, lonely, frustrated, and broken by the past three months. Some people need to go back to work. Some people want to go back to work. Children do need their lives back, safely.
I hate the phrase “be kind”. It’s the standard patter that we spout when we want people to pull their heads in and think about what they are saying or doing, usually quoted on social media when there is bullying or harassment happening. It’s bandied about and doesn’t really mean anything. (that’s another blog post for another day)
So I won’t use that phrase.
What I want to say is:
if you are able to go back to work and want to go back to work and are pleased and happy your kids are back at school, that is great. But have grace for those who either can’t or are scared to go back to work. Don’t speak down or unkindly to those who are still worried about sending their kids back to school.
If you are excited about going shopping and to the pub and want to organsie meetups or have people in your home, then that’s perfectly ok. Stick to the social distancing rules but HAVE grace for those who are not where you are at and are not ready yet.
It goes both ways though…
If you are struggling, and are not ready to face the world, and don’t want people in your home yet, and don’t want to go to the shops unless you really have to, and if a visit to the pub isn’t on your first thing to-do list, then that’s also fine and you need to have grace for those who are more ready. Whilst it can be hard to see on social media, someone going to eat out, or meet friends in the park, or share their excitement at being able to take their kids somewhere that is now allowed, if you have chosen to not do that, then that’s ok, but allow other people to make their own choices and weigh up risks.
We all need to have grace for each other. Maybe it’s crazy to allow pubs and museums to open and for people to be going shopping, but this is a long haul and it is not over yet, and we all need to manage what works for us, personally and try not to worry about what other people are or not doing.
For us personally, nothing much is changing. We aren’t making plans for people to be in our home, or to visit others in their homes. We plan to visit wide open spaces where the kids can be out and about safely, but other than that we are sticking to our routine and home and what works for us. But when I see someone being happy about going back to work or feeling relief that their kids are able to go back to school for a few weeks, after three months at home, I need to remember that I am not them, and they are not me, and what we are doing is right for us, and what they are doing is right for them. I know people who feel the same and are taking things at a slow pace and people who are pushing faster. That’s up to them. It’s not my job to police someone else’s managing of this situation. It is my job to police mine though and to accept that.
I do believe we will get through this, but how we manage will be very different for each person and family. We are all going to need a lot of grace as COVID and it’s effects come and go and rise and fall and we all feel our way out of this time, in the next few weeks and months. Some days I find it hard to muster enough to manage, and I have to remind myself to bite my tongue, and other days I find it easier. This post is also a reminder to myself as much as to anyone else as we negotiate COVID and the life we now face.
If social media and what you are seeing is causing you issues, maybe unplug from that. If someone is giving you a hard time about how you are or are not easing lockdown for you, you are allowed to have boundaries and be firm. Equally, you are not allowed to hassle someone else for not doing things the way you are. Attacking someone else for their choices or even being angry or bitter is not helpful. Again, I am talking to myself.
COVID has not gone yet. This is going to take a long time.