Posted: April 13, 2020 in: Pain-2-Power, Personal Empowerment

Coming Back from the Pandemic

Hospital admission rates for Coronavirus are declining, a sign that there is, indeed, light at the end of the tunnel we entered when the pandemic began.  It isn’t too soon to think about what will be required, psychologically, to be truly restored as we emerge from that tunnel.

Every human being has been affected.  It should go without saying that the most trauma has been and is still being sustained by those who contracted the virus and needed (or will need) hospital treatment for it.  Their courage in the face of adversity is a beacon in this long night.

But every human being will contend with some sort of recovery from the pandemic.  Hundreds of thousands of people have lost loved ones.  Ten times that number have lost friends and coworkers.  Families and friends and religious organizations and countless healers and our nation need to come together to help them grieve.  The wounds are everywhere, and they run deep.

Millions have experienced prolonged anxiety, increased fear of mortality and memories of past traumas.  Perhaps a hundred million or more have been impacted economically.

Coming back from Coronavirus will be different for each person, but it will be a journey for all of us.  Knowing that fact is the first step toward successfully completing that journey.

It’s time to think about the resources that you will require, too.

Elements of every Coronavirus Comeback Plan are likely to include:

1- A staged approach to re-entering the world, through work and socializing.  This approach has to take into account available data about the virus.  And it will have to also take into account the fact that almost no one would argue that re-engaging more completely with others should wait until the risk of contracting Coronavirus is zero.  The risk of driving isn’t zero.  The probability of waking up tomorrow isn’t 100 percent.  Balance is called for.

2- Gathering a team around you.  None of us should try to go it alone through the next six months.  We need to reach out to friends and family for support—with real intention.  There’s no reason we can’t say out loud that that’s the reason we want to be in contact more frequently.  We need to lose the reticence to ask for help from counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists of every kind.  And we need to ask any and every question on our minds of employers, bankers, doctors and anyone else with expertise we need to navigate the post-pandemic period.

3- Self-care.  We will each need to remind ourselves how important it is to include elements of exercise, meditation, a nutritious diet and restful sleep in our lives.  Many of us know the power of prayer to heal.  I am in no way discounting toughness and tenacity, but you will be recovering from a traumatic time, whether that registers fully for you, or not.

4- Compassion.  If you’re visiting this site and reading this blog, I already know you’re a compassionate person.  We need an army of people like you, asking others how they’re doing, proactively reaching out to touch base with them, sharing resources and insights about employment possibilities, health care options, sources of financial support and many other subjects.  Yet, one of the most important things you’ll be doing is listening, because people (you, too) are going to need to speak (and truly be heard) about what they’ve been through and are still going through.

The main message is this:  When Coronavirus ceases to be so much of a physical threat, the healing won’t just be for the folks who contracted the virus and, thank God, survived.  Yes, their needs will be myriad.  Everyone will be recovering, in different ways from this pandemic.  And everyone will need a plan, some help and the time to heal.

Dr. Keith Ablow


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