Dear people of Grace,
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we function as a society in America. We are entering our fourth week of being apart from each other, and we don’t know when we will be able to be together again—not only with our Grace family, but with members of our immediate families, as well. This change from our normal routines can be very difficult to cope with.
Bill Hoy, a professor of Medical Humanities at Baylor University and grief authority, said in a webinar that I attended yesterday that “coronavirus might not kill you, but isolation will.” He pointed out that the long-term mental health effects of this time will not disappear in mid-May, or whenever our stay-at-home orders are no longer in effect, and he urged us to take care to address the emotional aspects of this time as well as the physical.
We are hearing constantly about the importance of social distancing. While Dr. Hoy fully supports the need to stay at least 6 feet away from one another, he recommends that we change our language to "physical distancing," saying that social distancing implies that “I will not be connecting to you.” We can still work to maintain our social connections even when we must be apart, using technology, phone calls and cards/letters.
Thank you to everyone at Grace who has been doing just that! Groups of Grace members have been making weekly phone calls to our older members, and I have been told many times that people are reaching out to each other. I have been making calls to congregation members, but I don’t know everyone.
If you know someone, young or old, who you think would welcome a call — or if you would welcome a call yourself — please let me know and I can set you up! (Leave me a message at 708-366-6900 ext 219).
I would also like to thank the people who have volunteered to grocery shop/run errands for Grace members. A few people have taken advantage of this service and it has gone well. If you can benefit from this, please call or email me and I can arrange for it to happen.
Tips for coping, mental health resources
Dr. Eileen Feliciano, a New York psychologist, has put together
some tips for coping
during this time. You may already have seen this, since it has been shared widely, but I am including the link here because I think her advice is excellent.
If you are feeling unable to cope and already have a therapist or counselor, please reach out to them. Many are doing remote or telephone sessions. If you need a referral please try one of the following:
If you are in an unsafe situation in your home, the crisis line at
is taking calls. Call 708-386-4225 or text 708-792-3120.
Basic guidelines to protect yourself and others physically
- Stay home as much as possible. Go out only for essential reasons: groceries, medical care, exercise such as walks outside; or to go to work as an essential worker.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. (Sing the Happy Birthday song twice.)
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Continue to maintain social (physical) distancing.
Dr. Hoy, from Baylor, recommends limiting the amount of time you spend reading about or researching this.
He says to choose one reliable source (try to avoid the news channels), spend only about 30 minutes a day reviewing and then STOP.
Covering your face, making masks
The newest guideline is to cover your face when out in public. Please don’t use N-95 respirator masks or surgical masks, because health care workers need these to protect themselves. (You can’t really purchase them anyway. If you do have some, you can donate them to a local hospital.) The purpose of the face covering is to protect others from potentially acquiring the virus from you, but it may also provide some small level of protection for you. Wearing a mask does not eliminate the need for handwashing, social distancing, avoiding touching your face, or staying home except for essential needs. Continue to do all of these.
There are many different patterns available online to make a mask, or you can use a scarf or bandana. The CDC website (above) has instructions for several types. If you sew, here is a pattern for a very
video instructions here.
If you are making masks for your family and/or others and would be willing to donate some, please let me know. I would like to have a resource available for members who don’t know how to obtain one.
I look forward to worshiping with all of you (virtually) this Holy Week and Easter. You are all in my prayers.
Yours in Christ,
Pat Gulik RN