May is one of my favorite months of the year. My two living children were born in the month of May and Mother’s Day is celebrated in May. Therefore it’s a month of reciprocal loving. May is also the Mental Health Awareness Month. This is also Older Adult Appreciation Month.

Yet this is a May not like I have ever experienced before.

`As a mother, I look forward to showing my love for my children and receiving the symbols of their appreciation of their love towards me, typically spending time together. In this time of COVID-19 and social distancing, we must find a new way of showing love. We are in a place where the typical is not available. The coming together to support loved ones is against the law in some states during the time where we are required to stay in our homes.

In many cases showing love is protecting our loved ones from exposure to the invisible virus that we may not know that we carry. It may not be against the law, but it is against our better judgment. Our capacity for innovation with Zoom parties and birthday parades that connect without touch has shown us that we are willing to sacrifice for those we love.

As an estate planning and administration firm, we have watched this evolution with great awe. We have been active in supporting Exit Plan Symposiums based upon the book by Rhonda Green, “My Exit Plan: Getting My House in Order,” which shares her experience as a funeral services coordinator. The first symposium The Griffin Firm participated in during 2019 was very different from the Exit Plan Symposium of April 2020. Funerals and celebrations of life were reflective of the life of the person, their family and friends.

The second symposium had to be virtual because we are not allowed to gather with more than 10 people. For military funerals, there is a limit of two people! One of the webinar panelists had just come out of quarantine after recovering from the coronavirus and his wife was just released from the hospital after being in the Intensive Care Unit for 17 days. Another panelist is a funeral director. These times are very different.

The urgency of getting our affairs in order is not like any other time. While I repeat the scripture that no one knows the day or the hour, this time has indeed underscored that message.

Social distance raises greater concerns and awareness in May as Mental Health Awareness Month. Many people who struggle with mental illness have lost the support of the schedule, friends and relationships that assist in the challenge of getting through difficult times. The remote working may exacerbate the day-to-day functioning challenges that is often required just to survive daily life.

In the time when we are safely harboring in our homes, I encourage you to do more than you would typically do. This safe-harboring has gone on for longer than anticipated. Reach out to do wellness checks that go beyond the brief statement “are you OK?” We are typically trained to answer in such a way that we are not a burden to another.

Dig deeper to ensure that there is a connection where you are able to build. Dig deeper to know that the conversation that has substance beyond the perfunctory. Dig deeper to share conversations that have meaning as a real friend. In spite of the physical distance, let’s take the time to create emotional closeness that allows us to be real and bridge the gaps of loneliness.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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