Coping During a Pandemic

Part of grief is allowing yourself to feel loss and sit with it in a way that you do not try to hide or dismiss pain. Allowing oneself to truly access pain, and to recognize that pain is not a binary situation is one mindful approach to coping. As Thich Nhat Hanh states in his text “No Mud, No Lotus” (2014), “When we suffer, we tend to think that suffering is all there is at that moment, and happiness belongs to some other time or place.” (p. 11). When in fact, we can learn to understand and engage with the presence of both happiness and suffering, and ultimately enjoy life more. It sounds complicated because we so often are led to believe these things do not exist together, but if this pandemic has shown us, even in the depths of our suffering, we can find hope.

Coping during a pandemic. What a bizarre sentence that prior to 2020, must have sounded like a dystopian nightmare. While there may be a sense that there is a feeling now as though the pandemic is over, in reality COVID-19 still rages on in all parts of the world and remains a concern for vulnerable groups. Vulnerable groups, who I would like to add are just as valuable and worthy of protection compared to less vulnerable groups. The improvement in reducing the sense of panic with the pandemic came largely thanks to effective vaccines that help deliver protection. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to vaccines in the world, and not all those fortunate enough to have access are choosing to become vaccinated against an infection-these realities allow the pandemic to persist.

“When we suffer, we tend to think that suffering is all there is at that moment, and happiness belongs to some other time or place.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh “No Mud, No Lotus” (2014)

An important part of coping in this stage of the pandemic, involves accepting how far we have come, and recognizing all it took to get here. It’s been an arguably tough time for most, traumatic for many. Whether you have lost loved ones or family, or had to isolate and miss out on important events, weddings, graduations, reunions to name a few, this past year has evoked a sense of loss that many have not been used to experiencing and that no one was able to effectively prepare for. Take some needed time to reflect on what you have lost, but also reflect on what you have gained. Have you perhaps gained a greater appreciation of what you have and your own strengths, or perhaps a greater understanding of what others go through, or even a better ability to tackle the unknown.

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