As the Easter weekend fast approaches, it’s usually a busy time for many people as families and friends prepare to gather. Often, these big gatherings only happen at Christmas and Easter, so they are highly anticipated special events.
Not this year!
This year, we are living in the land of the new-to-humans coronavirus (COVID-19) that affects your lungs and respiratory system, causing symptoms such as a fever, cough and shortness of breath. This year, the world is in crisis, fighting a war against a virus invading our globe. This year, so many will be isolated. Not necessarily alone, but isolated with those who live under their roof.
Others will be completely alone for the first time in their lives — in quarantine, in strange hotels or at home unable to be part of Easter family gatherings.
In the chronic illness community, not everyone in pre-coronavirus life had a restricted existence. Many members on my online support forum are more than able, under normal circumstances, to gather with family and friends, go to church, go shopping, go to the movies, cafes and restaurants and generally enjoy a social life.
So, even for the chronic illness community, this Easter will be a challenge for many.
Some of us are used to an isolated life, but we are not the norm. A true isolated life is not easy. It takes time, years even, to adjust to living an exclusive, isolated life.
An isolated life is something I have learned to live with and have embraced with gusto. I want to live the best, fullest life possible, so acceptance has been essential.
I’ve embraced total online shopping. I’ve had teleconsults with my medical team as far as possible for a few years now. I’ve always washed my hands constantly, rarely hug others, naturally social distance when out and self-isolate whenever I’m sick. I’ve had to do this for years to survive.
I learned the hard way my immune system was compromised, and I easily picked up weird and wonderful viruses and infections, all of which were resistant to treatments.
I know how hard an isolated life is, even though I’m blessed to have a loving husband living with me.
Many with serious, disabling chronic illnesses, live alone. Reliant on carers to visit and look after their daily needs. My heart goes out to these people, as their usual difficult circumstances are now even more stressful as a result of the virus pandemic.
I worry about the long-term effects on the wider healthy community, of our current isolating, quarantine, stay-at-home restrictions. It will affect the mental health of so many. It’s not a natural way to live.
Genesis 2:18 — “The Lord God said, ‘It isn’t good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.'” Genesis 2:18
How can we survive an estranged Easter?
The holiday weekend will no doubt heighten the separation from family and friends, and the gravity of this historical global crisis. The feeling of grief will likely sneak up without warning.
You may have those living with you, dealing with their own grief issues, reacting out of character to the smallest of daily life issues. Tensions may quickly build within your home.
You may be completely alone and stuck in an isolation room, feeling incredibly traumatized and cut off, experiencing a mix of emotions.
So, what can you do to survive, and even enjoy, Easter this year?
I have a few tips which have always ensured my husband and I enjoy isolated special seasons, separated from family and friends. I hope they help both the healthy and those living with chronic illness, who are not used to our current global living restrictions.
1. Plan a celebration schedule for the weekend. Keeping occupied really helps mental well-being.
2. Arrange Skype, Facetime calls, etc. with as many loved ones as possible.
3. Even a good old fashioned phone call can be a wonderful chance to chat and connect. I prefer phone calls as I’m never sure what my body will be doing, and generally I can always answer the phone without the caller being aware of what I’m dealing with. I also find conversations are deeper on a phone call, away from the distraction of a computer or phone screen. And likely, there will be internet outages during busy holiday times impacting video chats.
4. Remember to connect with the people you are living with. It’s a wonderful opportunity for relationships at home to strengthen as we spend quality time together.
5. Plan a celebration menu. Good food you love is essential to making the holiday weekend feel special.
6. Get everyone to pick a favorite movie and schedule “cinema time” into your celebration schedule.
7. Easter church services are being streamed far and wide, so no need to miss out on celebrating the true meaning of Easter.
8. Get some fresh air! Go for a walk, sit in your garden, courtyard or balcony.
9. Read books and play board games.
10. Get dressed up on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to make it extra special, or just make an extra effort to look your best.
11. Or maybe have pajama days, especially if getting dressed up for work is your norm.
Really, the list is endless. I think the key to surviving isolation and restrictions over Easter is to have a celebration plan. You might not do everything on your plan, but just the act of scheduling can put you in a headspace of productivity and help you feel more positive in trying circumstances.
Let’s face it, life is just odd at the moment and it’s only going to get stranger for a while. We are all in this together and that’s important to remember. It means none of us are alone, for perhaps, the first time in our lifetime. We are all experiencing, at the same time, the same crisis, the same fears, the same uncertainties.
So, let’s share together some Easter joy, and find a way this weekend to do something a little special, as a household of one or five.
Easter 2020 will be one for the history books. We are writing history together, so let’s make this particular Easter a bright space on the pages, in the midst of an otherwise dark and uncertain time.
There’s the Easter message in a nutshell. Hope followed Good Friday. That day the sky turned black as Christ died on the cross, but three days later, the gravestone rolled away revealing an empty tomb.
Don’t lose hope.
For more on the coronavirus, check out the following stories from our community:
- 10 Face Masks People With Chronic Illness Recommend
- What You Should Know About Social Distancing During COVID-19
- 7 Things to Do If Social Distancing Is Triggering Your Depression
- The Problem With Saying ‘Only’ the Elderly and Immunocompromised Will Be Affected by COVID-19
- Please Wash Your Hands Year-Round — Not ‘Just’ Because of the Coronavirus
- Creative Activities to Try With Your Kids While We’re Isolated at Home