Pieces that ask the question what it means to be coping and whether or not we are.
“My friends admired me for how well I was coping, I longed to say ‘I’m not’ but something always stopped me”
Living in Locked Down Days by Liz Gregson
How did we cope when our world suddenly changed?
The threat of disease and potential fatality robbed our security; we suddenly realised our fragility. So many questions; how would we manage when people lost their jobs and livelihoods and everything we took for granted was no more? Would there even be social breakdown? How would we manage without seeing family and friends? Would my mother living in her care home avoid Covid, how would she cope with no one visiting; well looked after by people who cared, but who never knew her former self?
I never imagined having to cope in such dystopian times. It was unsettling and the future was frightening, but the strangeness was novel; the eerily quiet city, birdsong replacing city traffic noise, distancing dancing to avoid strangers. I walked along deserted streets and through parks, enjoying nature as spring emerged and noticing many things for the first time. I sought quiet places for mindful reflection. Trying to make sense of the impact of this strange world I wrote short stories and poems, both creative and helpful.
Missing regular visitors Mum’s health gradually declined. We spoke on the phone frequently, but at Easter she asked when I would be seeing her again. Sadly I was unable to give her a definite answer, because I didn’t know. When she deteriorated very suddenly 9 days later there was no time to travel down to Suffolk before she died. Speaking on the phone felt a poor substitute for being there holding her hand. I’m eternally grateful to the devoted carers who were with her, instead of my sister and I.
All the rituals of mourning following her death had to be done differently.
Mum’s funeral was small, personal and meaningful, but of necessity socially distanced. The service was live streamed, so most of her family and friends could be there virtually. I appreciated their virtual presence, but longed to see them, talk face to face and exchange comforting hugs. Our promise of getting together with her family and friends continually recedes as lockdowns have not made that possible, but I still hope.
I hadn’t been at home full time for years, but when lock down prevented journeys, gradually the slower pace became calming. When permitted more freedom during the summer we went for days out to the coast and walked miles in the hills relishing the calming effect of being outdoors away from the city, savouring the memories in case there were future restrictions.
Infections soared as the evenings grew darker and we retreated to the safety of being indoors. Autumn and winter has been anxious and gloomy, but we need to live in a strange normality, rather than just exist.
We had a ‘meal out’ in our backyard on a cool October evening illuminated by candles and fairy lights, warmed by a fire fuelled by Amazon delivery cartons.
When we were disappointed when our family Christmas was impossible we met for a family picnic on Christmas Eve in beautiful frosty sunshine wearing warm clothes and Christmas hats; a different memorable, festive occasion.
Living in many months of lock down we have had dreary dark days, limited choices and stressful times. This was not how I envisaged retirement and I have been missing the freedom and choices we used to have even more when times have been hard.
I hope I will never take anything for granted again.
Memories by Pat Stott
Back in the 1970s just weeks after I had passed my driving test I decided to drive to Yorkshire to visit my family. In an old minivan, just before Scotch Corner the fan belt broke. A very nice AA man fixed it after a lengthy wait and I went on my way again. Half way up Sutton bank at a particularly steep bit I stalled. I can’t remember how many times I tried but I could not engage the gears and kept slipping back. A sense of calm came over me and I accepted that I might end up going over the edge and dying, I accepted it until I felt as if someone was with me and the next time I tried I succeeded and pulled away up the bank. I sat at the top and said a silent thank you to the angels. Which I still do today when I need their help.
I was a social worker in an older persons team for 27 years before I retired. Different ways of coping were needed then as many of my clients suffered from dementia or other mental and physical illnesses and came to me in a time of crisis. At first I coped by solving whatever the problem was by practical means and offering support. But it became more difficult as budget cuts were introduced and services were rationed to those in greatest need or imminent danger. My clients weren’t coping and neither was I. Later I was forced into a position with inadequate training so I coped by acting the role and forcing myself to appear confident in what I was doing – it seemed to work but it was stressful maintaining this facade.
Never being the type of person to offload or share problems and feelings had always been the way I lived and it finally caught up with me and I went through several bouts of depression which culminated in early retirement. Not having structure to my week was something new to cope with. When my husband became ill about three years before he died my friends admired me for how well I was coping, I longed to say ‘ I’m not ‘ but something always stopped me admitting it. They were the type of friends I could have shared things with, but I had always been the strong capable one who would take anything on and I could not show my vulnerable side. I still can’t. I cope by making light of situations, including the present one.
Helping others who are in need of help is a coping strategy for me, supporting a friend through terminal cancer just months after my husband’s death gave me a sense of purpose and it felt good to be needed again.
Memories help me cope with life alone, keeping busy and involved in other people’s lives fills my days, I wonder sometimes how I will cope when normal life resumes or even if I want it to.
Thriving or Failing by Christine Logan
Thriving or Failing?
Have I thrived or have I failed,
It’s not as black and white as that,
I’ve only one chance to get it right,
Not the nine lives of a slinky cat!
Hero’s medals to the one I love,
I drag him along with my plans and schemes
Then pull him down with broken dreams.
Through and through he’s always there,
The better days we can happily share
Coping with COVID by Mary Pickin
Normal life is on its way
We are not lost
Don’t look back, to count the cost.
Stripped back, rock bottom
No help, no friends, no family
Nothing to lose
Clear future, clean break, new leaf
Head up, walking on, no looking back
One foot in front of the other
No secrets, invisible
Sofa, cat, tele, patterned socks
Heady scent of hyacinths
Friday 13th by David Black
On Friday 13th March 2020 I visited my mum at her care home, they had just received an email memo from head office some place down south, telling them to close down the home to visits. I knew something had been on the cards for a while, but this was getting serious.
I had spent the best part of an hour and a couple of bus rides interspersed by short walking stints getting to the home, they kindly allowed me to see my mum for a while on that morning. I made my way upstairs, first to check mums room and then waking along to find her enjoying watching everything that was occurring in the lounge. It would be the last time I would ever see some of the residents. The home is not allowed to tell you who has died.
Mum was doing fine and keeping well. I tried to explain to Mum that I would be going away for a while so I would be unable to see her. It felt like I was telling her that I had been convicted of a crime and now had to face the consequences in prison. She had no idea what I was saying and continued to chat, smile and laugh. It was reassuring to me that she appeared to be in a happy place, oblivious of the outside world.
The time was over and I walked her along to the dining room and got her settled for her meal. Before I left that day the staff assured me that they would look after mum and I’m pleased to report that they are continuing to do so almost a year later.
How do I cope? by Tammy
Children and Family, Chocolate and food, Snow, Shopping, Christmas, Baths, Writing, Music, Candles.
Relaxation, Enjoyment, Entertainment, Emotions, Closeness. Smells. Cooking, the aroma of my scented candles, mixing with the delights of my bubble bath and crystals.
Sight. The beautiful clean look as the snow glistens everywhere. The look on my kids faces as I throw snowballs on them when they’re lying in bed. The surprised look on peoples faces when they open certain presents at Christmas.
Taste. Chocolate! For someone who was never a chocolate lover, has now become obsessed with it. Letting it melt in my mouth before devouring in its rich, sweet texture.
Hear. The sound of the rain pounding down on my window, the sound of my son’s heavy breathing when he’s in a deep sleep. The laughter from my daughter as she chats excitedly to her friends on the phone.
Touch. This one seems to be the hardest as there is nothing that can substitute a loving cuddle or a simple pat on the back.
Coping by Paul
Coping with the constant noise.
coping without your gidenc, I tremble deep inside,
deep in my thoughts.
F*ck…Can’t cope, I can’t cope.
Closing my eyes praying to amorphous
to dream seeking comfort in distraction
holding on to my mind.
From relentless confusion I seek shelter
within a kind, patient smile,
you take my hand
riding the storm within,
with calming ease,
Not without your tender cloke fashioned
in love withstanding the crual inflictions,
protecting warmth caressing the dream,
A releasing sleep.
Wondering what was all the fuss about,
Coping, to invest in the self by B
In these strange times, everything is very difficult!
For some of us more than others. We have to find ways of coping with lockdown and the challenges it brings.
For me, my way of coping is to assess what is happening and see what I can and can’t do at the moment.
An easy way of doing this, is by writing a list of Pros, Cons, and Ideas & Solutions. I write my Pros in the Sun, the Cons in the Rain Cloud and my Ideas and Solutions in the Rainbow, because after all life’s ups and downs are inevitable, and like the weather, they change!
There is always an answer, always help and choices/options available, sometimes we just have to take a step back and think, take a break for a while.
There’s no shame in admitting when we need to accept help but it’s knowing when to accept it and where to look to get the right help when needed.