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I am consistently amazed by the resiliency of the human spirit I see in our County. As Americans, we all have a bit of that “Pioneering Spirit” that moved our forbearers to forge new pathways into the unknown. That resilient pioneering spirit is alive and well in Lewis County.
As I ponder what the COVID-19 situation means for us, one of my favorite quotes comes to mind. It’s from Earnest Hemingway's novel, “A Farewell to Arms.”
“The world Breaks us all, but some are stronger in the broken places.”
To some, this new threat may seem like it’s winning but rest assured, it is not. It’s tough out there. But we are tougher!
It may break us somewhat, but we will emerge on the other side stronger for having faced this new enemy – not alone, but together. The fact of the matter is there will always be enemies; this is a part of being human in this unpredictable world. However, I am most encouraged by the fact that we do not face or fight this new enemy alone. We face it, we fight it, and we defeat it, together!
We all know tragedy and misfortune. Is there any good in tragedy? If so, it’s what we learn from adversity, and the sharing of that knowledge to help others in their own journeys.
So, we must ask ourselves this question: “Does it really matter what the new normal is?”
In reality, NO. It doesn’t matter. Why? Because the “new normal” will be our “normal.” Face masks, hand sanitizer, protective gloves and social distancing is what we will do from this point onward. How long will we do this? No one really knows – but it looks like handshakes are out for now.
Instead of fighting the change, what if we embrace it?
Is it OK to mourn the many wonderful, precious lives, we have lost to this enemy? It is OK to mourn the loss of what once was? The answer to these questions is a resounding YES! However, if we want to move past this – and we will – we must begin TODAY on a path of acceptance! Acceptance does not mean liking it – it just means accepting it, nothing more and nothing less.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross was the first to recognize and give meaning to the very human stages of grief and loss. These five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, and acceptance. May I ask, Where are you in the five? We all feel the loss. We all mourn for what once was. The key to moving on is acceptance. Once we accept the reality of our situation, everything else becomes doable.
Here are a few things to help you navigate our now NOT New Normal, but Normal.
1. Talk about it with everyone! The more you talk about it, the more it becomes not a mountain to traverse, but a hill to climb with others.
2. Spend time with family, and friends even if it’s virtual for now.
3. If you can help, do it! Give blood and volunteer to make masks or deliver food. There is healing in helping others.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! We cannot do this alone. Don’t isolate – reach out. Every single one of us has the same questions. And remember, if you need to talk, you can always call the emotional support line at 1-800-803-8833.
5. Most importantly, practice kindness to anyone and everyone, including yourself! I think we would all agree, we could use a lot more kindness in our lives!
We all are broken by the world, but we can be stronger in those broken places – the choice is ours to make!
By Dr. Richard J. Stride, Psy.D.
CEO Cascade Community Health