COVID-19 has taught us so much about valuing life and connections

When we look back someday, we will remember the year 2020 as the year that brought us challenges – both emotional and physical – but with any luck, we will also recall it as a year that showed us what was important in our lives. Many of us have lost friends and family to illness, sometimes COVID-19 related, sometimes not; many of us have lost jobs, our livelihoods, our peace of mind. It is hard not to feel depressed, stressed, or anxious about what this year has brought us. It is here that many of us are beginning to wonder what 2021 will bring.

As many of us reflect on the year that has passed, we are often beginning to formulate our resolutions or intentions for the new year.  One word sums up the loss many of us may have felt over this year. That word is connection.

When we went into lockdown in mid-March and many of us began working remotely, we developed a deep appreciation for essential workers – those working in hospitals, grocery store staff, firefighters, police, and many others whose work does not stop in the middle of a pandemic. We ordered takeout from our favorite local restaurants to help them stay in business. We created quarantine pods with our family and friends so we could stay safe, but still this year was found lacking.

Connection. A place where hearts and minds meet. A place where memories are made.

The year 2020 will always be remembered as the year where we recognized our deep need for connection to one another.

Connection was still possible in 2020 but it did take different shapes at times. Many businesses developed an online presence to engage their customers. FiftyForward did the same. Our staff created an amazing variety of virtual programming and outdoor events, all with the intention of keeping our members safe while keeping them active and engaged. We know that isolation can be tough as well as emotionally and physically debilitating on all age groups, but especially on older adults. We kept our essential services running because we knew that even the smallest of connections during a meal delivery could reap benefits for the recipient as well as the staff member or caregiver. Our recipients received a hot, nutritious meal and a wellness check and the visits brought joy and friendships. The saying, “we feed you like family” rang true.

As we look forward to 2021 with a promise of several vaccines being rolled out to the public soon, we also look forward to being with our family and friends, too — really being there for one another in ways we did not imagine before. For now, we continue to reach out through phone calls, Zoom, FaceTime, and maybe letters. Hopefully, by summer 2021 we will reach out with hugs instead.

Until then, it is important to maintain peace of mind and good mental health. There are many ways to do so. Our feature article in the December “Forward Focus” discusses the benefits of maintaining good mental health.  So many of us are feeling the cumulative anxiety, fatigue, and stress from this crazy year of quarantine and isolation. Mental Health America MidSouth offers 10 free, mental health screenings on their website so that you can determine your own peace of mind and gain access to vetted resources should you need them.

This holiday season was one like no other. Nashvillians, and the nation, woke to the Christmas Day bombing that destroyed some of our historic district downtown. Many of us in Nashville had already suffered losses through the tornado and derecho winds that came through town months before. Paired with the struggles of COVID-19, we have been through a lot in these last 10 months.

We grieve because we are connected – through our communities, our friends, our families in this place in time. As we grieve our losses, it is also important to be thankful for what we have. Take time to reach out. Take those necessary deep breaths, get some fresh air, get some exercise, make that phone call. Look forward and set your intentions for the new year. The human spirit is resilient. We’ve got this.

Submitted by Misa Acox, FiftyForward Marketing & Publications Manager