Amidst all the pandemic grief and fear, people step up in big ways to help each other
Three years ago, I wrote a blog post called The Kindness of Strangers: Wildfires, Empathy and Conflict, about the many ways people helped each other during the devastating 2017 wildfire here in Sonoma County.
Now, I’ve written a post about kindness during the Covid-19 global pandemic and shutdown. Honestly, I feel overwhelmed at times with horror, frustration, grief, rage. But as Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers) mother told him—in tragedies and disasters, look for the helpers. You will always find them if you look.
Pay attention to the helpers
It comforts me to pay attention to all the ways people are showing kindness and looking out for each other. I have noticed more gentleness and care, an empathic understanding that we all want safety, community, and to have our lives matter.
Here are some of the beautiful manifestations of kindness and caring I’ve observed:
I have met more of my neighbors than I ever had before. From across the street, or from at least 6 feet away, we’ve introduced ourselves and shared how we’re doing. Two of my neighbors who live next door to each other, decided to become one household for social distancing purposes, so the able-bodied couple could help the elderly family with yardwork, cooking and socializing.
Creating global community
Many of my meetings—12 Step and community groups, a meditation group, a writing group, have gone to Zoom. These formerly local meetings now have people participating from all over the world. And we are all so grateful for the connection and warmth to continue, even if we can’t touch or hug.
I know a number of people with sewing skills who are making masks. My friend Joanna made masks for my wife and me, among many other people. and only wanted to be reimbursed for postage. Janice, a professional seamstress, has been sewing masks for frontline workers all day long for free. A local sewing center has shifted from quilting to helping customers create masks, and they have made and donated thousands.
Helping out with groceries and food.
Donations to our local food bank, Redwood Empire Food, are way up. My friend Kim started a GoFundMe called Feed It Forward. People donate money for gift cards at locally owned restaurants and people can request free meals. It helps out people in need and our local businesses at the same time. Many people offer to go to the grocery store for at risk elders and others, including my friend Cathy. Public schools here are distributing food at their curbside, so their students and their families will still have free lunch and other meals during the shutdown.
Mindfulness and exercise classes
I know many healers who are offering free or low cost classes online to help people meditate, manage anxiety, move their bodies, make connections.
Teachers go the distance
K-12 and college teachers are making mighty efforts to learn how to teach online and engage students, while balancing increased home responsibilities.
First responders, healthcare professionals, our true heroes…are putting their lives on the line for all of us. They deserve all our support and gratitude and protective gear.
Staying home/keeping your distance
Staying home, wearing masks, keeping your distance from others, are all acts of love that show your caring for others and yourself.
Creating a resource for families to survive a pandemic
I was invited to write a piece (Impatience, Conflict, and Covid-19) in a brand new book called Living Together, Separating, Divorcing: Surviving During a Pandemic. A labor of love for the editors and the more than 70 mediators, conflict coaches, and other experts who contributed, it is available as a low cost ($1.99) e-book. When I saw the entire book, with a wealth of tips, wisdom, and kindness to help families get along, I was proud of what we accomplished together, . As Michael Lang, the editor, said, we may not know how to sew or take care of sick people, but we can offer our conflict management skills to make families’ lives better. I feel peaceful and satisfied to be able to contribute in a small way to creating a better community and world.
What can you do to help?
I know many of you are already contributing in the ways you can. Please don’t judge yourself or compare yourself to others, just know that whatever you do, whatever kindness and generosity of spirit or pocketbook you can offer to yourself, family members, or your community, all count, tremendously. And, you get a second benefit—you might reduce your own anxiety through finding purpose and giving back.