This morning I waited in line to stock up on groceries, feeling thankful that in our home, none of us have lost our jobs. I stand in the sunshine feeling grateful that I know I can stock up on what we need, and we don’t have to worry about how to pay for it.
As a last responder, my days are filled with assisting the bereaved navigate the uncharted waters of grief in the time of COVID. Other than those who harass us over and over with demands to breach mandated gathering numbers, I feel for each and every family who has to say good bye during such stressful times. The phone rings non-stop on top of the additional work of caring for those who have died from COVID 19. Despite the stress, I feel thankful that we share a strong camaraderie as funeral directors.
My days off are like a lifeline for me. I need time to recharge and rest. I don’t stand in line to get necessities because I’m bored and need to leave the house. I do it because I have to. This might be why I became irritated today by the woman cruising through the store having a video chat with her gal-pal; a precious face mask flipped down on her neck. A mask that a health care worker needs, and knows how to use.
“Ooooooh! Should I get these?” She says, taking a video of the munchies on display, like her knob of a best friend hasn’t seen a bag of potato chips before. And then she giggles, puts back the bag she just touched, and grabs another one for the camera.
I know, I know. You’re going to judge me and say that perhaps this woman needs some mental health compassion. To you, I bid a sincere, ‘pull your head out of your ass’. This is not a time to social-media-up your ridiculous sense of self importance. As a matter of fact, it’s a time to get what you need and get the hell out of everyone’s way.
The mental toll of work has left me exhausted at the end of each day. I haven’t had energy to talk to my pals or the focus to sit down and write in what feels like too long.
On Friday, changing from my uniform into my jeans and t-shirt before going home, I gave myself a stern talking to. It was a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps chat about getting my head right and devoting time every day to something energizing. Walk. Read. Write. Call a friend.
People on the front lines are marching in to work every day despite feeling overwhelmed, frightened, and mentally fatigued. People like me who care for the dead and the bereaved, bear witness to the pain and suffering that this disease leaves in it’s wake. It’s a lonely, hollow, grief that no one should have to go through.
Please don’t be the asshat at the store treating this like a joke.
More importantly, if you are a front-line worker right now, I hope you have the energy to be just a little bit selfish; take time to let your body feel vibrant and alive, get some fresh air, make love, make art, sing in the shower…cry if you need to, and be vulnerable enough to let someone care for you.