Will You Be Able to Say You Helped Others When This Crisis Is Over?

There isn’t anything we can compare this health crisis to. I mean, other than apocalyptic movies and 2 a.m. insomnia-fueled, what-if worry sessions. The truth is, our regular lives have been forever changed. The things we used to take for granted like being able to have coffee with a friend or the ability to get toilet paper has been profoundly disrupted. But for all of the change and fear and uncertainty that has saturated our new normal, there is one question that nags at me. Will I be able to say I helped others when this crisis is over?

This question haunts me.

In the last 14 days, my family has been in quarantine. Our school has shut down and businesses are being shuttered left and right. We’ve only left the house for food and medicine and even then, only one person went out into the public. At the supermarket, people were standing around and chatting as if nothing was wrong. No one was abiding by the six-feet rule. On Facebook, families are still planning playdates. In contrast, the news from local to national is screaming about how urgently critical it is that we all band together to do our part to flatten the curve and slow the spread of this God-awful virus. So why aren’t people listening? Why aren’t they helping? Am I helping?

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I’m just a mum is a rural town who works from home. My days have been flipped upside down with the new routine of homeschooling my three kids. We can’t go anywhere. Food and supplies are being rationed because it is becoming difficult to find basics like bread and flour, eggs and milk. We haven’t been able to find toilet paper for two weeks and even bidets are all sold out so we fashioned our own from a DIY YouTube channel.

Everything about this situation has felt a lot like grieving. But it was when a friend recently pointed out that we can all find things to control even when the world feels uncontrollable that it clicked for me that the things I’m doing matter. I can find ways, however small, to do my part to help everyone get through this frightening time.

Staying home is helping. I’m not spreading germs or giving this virus the chance to hitch a ride and infect the people I love. People like my father-in-law who has a history of pneumonia. Cutting off my family from physical contact was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do but that matters. Isolation is helping to slow the spread of the virus. Birthdays and milestones are being missed and we rely on Face Time more than ever before.

Staying connected is helping. I don’t feel guilty for spending an hour in a group chat on Instagram because I know that during that time, my friends who are scattered around the world need to feel seen and heard as much as I do. We laugh and vent and cry and scream together and it helps.

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Volunteering my time from home is helping. I’m helping friends to organize a massive campaign to have volunteers sew masks for front line workers. We’re getting precious PPE to the people in hospitals across this country who need them most in order to help keep them safe. I’m helping to organize a family co-op with my mother-in-law to bulk order food and supplies when we can’t find things at our supermarket. Using texts and voice messaging to reach out to my local friends and neighbours to make sure everyone is OK, and honestly, just to hear their voices or read their funny messages fill my heart with warmth.

This terrible moment in our history is also a clarion call for kindness and a tenacious spirit to work together. Political divides suddenly don’t matter to me anymore. I’m just worried that the people in my community are ok. Getting upset over differences suddenly feels petty when I hear stories of families being gutted by deaths because of this virus.

So, I ask myself every day what I can do – however small – to be helpful. Because when this challenge is behind us, I want to say I did something that had meaning, that made a difference, that made us somehow stronger and just a little bit more resilient.

When this crisis is over, will you be able to say the same?

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Visit the Centers for Disease Control at CDC.gov or the World Health Organisation at Who.int for the latest information on the coronavirus and learn what you can do to stop the spread.