When the Covid-19 virus jumped from China and other parts of Asia to Europe, most of us (me included) watched the news with curiosity but weren’t particularly worried. Those of us old enough to collect Social Security had been through the Asian flu, the swine flu and the bird flu. Some of us suffered significant days lost from school and work. We nicknamed our particular version “Death Flu” because it made us feel as if we we’d like to die. But the fever and chills and aching muscles only lasted a few days; we gradually recovered over a few weeks, glad to be back with our family and friends.
However, we soon realized that this virus was different and much more contagious. When it broke out on cruise ships, and airline passengers brought it to the U.S., we weren’t curious—we were worried. We saw videos of hospital patients in isolation-beds and heard about hundreds, then thousands of deaths taking place. Most of those deaths happened in densely populated areas, with people over 70 or who had compromised immune systems.
Within a short period of time, schools closed, restaurants only served takeout orders, travel was restricted, then borders around countries closed. My husband Gary was grief stricken when his four music organizations stopped rehearsing and cancelled up-coming concerts. He went from enjoying playing his trumpet for three or four times a week to feeling completely isolated from fellow musicians. Then our church stopped holding meetings and we mourned losing our weekly temple service.
One of our daughters worked at the Family Support facility. A mom brought in her baby so she could go to the doctor. That mom tested positive for the virus which meant our daughter and the woman who had actually cared for the baby were quarantined for two weeks. During this time, our daughter’s daughter delivered a baby, her first grandchild. She didn’t get to hold him or even leave her house to look at him through a window.
Another daughter who lives on the Wasatch Front decided to take some flowers to the women she ministered to. Three of the four sisters welcomed the cheery blossoms and the kind notes, but the fourth woman’s husband came to the door and said, “We don’t want anything from you!” Then slammed the door.
Things continued to deteriorate. Multiple copies of “How to protect yourself and others” popped up in newspapers, the mail and tucked into front door screens. An aunt commented that there was so much disagreement and nonsense coming at her that she figured she’s just pay attention to staying clean and not worry about going outside to tend her roses.
A news story compared Covid-19 to the flu epidemic of 1918; it lasted into 1920 and killed 50 million people—more than died during World War I. In those days, people didn’t have access to modern medical care, nor could they communicate via telephone and email.
As our self-quarantine and disinfecting of hands and surfaces continue, I worry a bit that we will become “germ-phobic” so hung up on disinfecting and distancing ourselves that we lose our human connections. I’m grateful for the very real methods that allow us to see and converse with one another. I also urge us all to think beyond our own feelings of isolation and loneliness which can morph into depression and serious mental issues. If we focus on other people, especially our loved ones, we will avoid the downward spiral that can grip us. Focus on showing love to others and downplay your own sorrows. Remember that our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ are more powerful than any pandemic, but They expect us to be strengthened through turning to Them and trusting that the world is in Their hands.
How are you coping with your world turned upside down? Share with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll list your thoughts and actions in an upcoming column.