Julia Ellifritt LISW-S
Director of Education & Community Engagement
Has been with Cornerstone of Hope for 15 years. Her experiences include caring for the terminally ill and their families, bereavement care services, community education, traumatic death interventions, research, supervision of graduate students, coordination of volunteer programs and development of psychosocial components for hospice programs. Is a skilled practitioner in counseling and program development, with a Bachelor’s (Cleveland State University) and Master’s Degree (Case Western Reserve University) in Social Work. Has been published in The American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care and The Exceptional Parent. Is also a founding board member of the Northeast Ohio Bereavement Council and was active on their board for more than ten years.
Loss. It’s something we all experience in varying ways. At Cornerstone of Hope, we work with people who have lost a loved one, but we recognize that there are other types of loss besides death. For instance, loss of a job, a marriage, a dream of getting into law school, or a physical function due to a stroke. The introduction of the Corona Virus has magnified our personal sense of loss significantly. This virus came without warning, has interrupted our lives, and has taken from us.
My daughter has worked very hard over the last 6 years to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Sciences. She is now spending the rest of her last semester studying from home, and most likely her commencement ceremony will be cancelled – loss of a public way to celebrate all of her academic accomplishments. My son had to move out of his dorm to finish the semester remotely, but wanted to stay in the area of his school, as he has a job there – loss of the money we paid for room and board on campus, loss of savings to now pay for an apartment, loss of a sense of security in his social group, loss of sports and club activities he was involved with on campus (No March Madness ~ that’s huge for him!), loss of opportunities for internships. Loss.
I teach a grief and loss course at a local university, and I’ve had to figure out how to teach remotely. My colleagues will tell you what a miracle it will be if I figure out that type of technology! And, I wasn’t able to vote yesterday as the polls were closed – loss of my civic duty. Plus, we’re almost out of toilet paper at my house, and the store shelves are bare! What’s with that? People are scooping up bottled water and toilet paper. Why? It’s not like the apocalypse is coming – we will still have running water and electricity. They will still be making toilet paper. In reality, restaurants, bars and gyms are all closed… so my life is pretty much exactly the same! Having said all that, this pandemic is really just a minor inconvenience in my life, compared to what people are experiencing in Italy, China and other places around the globe. Perspective.
Pandemic is defined as a disease that is spread over a whole country or the world. In an attempt to attempt to contain the spread, we are barely two weeks into a government-imposed quarantine that may end up lasting months.
You may be experiencing lost wages, income, child care, or a variety of other things. I want you to know that those are legitimate losses that must be grieved. But knowing those losses may be around for a while, here are some tips to embrace our new reality:
- If you are working from home, and/or your kids are now home from school, use this time to connect as a family. Unplug the electronics. Play board games or watch a family movie. Our kids are watching our attitudes through all this. What a gift in this hustle, bustle world to have family time!
- Acknowledge that this is a temporary inconvenience in life. These frustrations won’t last forever. It’s like an inoculation – painful to get, but in the long run, a really good idea to protect my health and safety.
- Check on your elderly neighbors. Make sure they have food and medicine.
- Have a grateful heart. Realize that the situation in developing nations is much worse than it is here, and that we have systems in place to provide support.
- If you have teens home from school, lend them to folks who are still working but now have kids home from school with no babysitter.
- Do your best to remain positive. I came across a social media post that provided ways to combat negative thoughts like, “I’m stuck at home” or “Everything is shutting down, I’m panicking”, with positive thoughts like, “I get to be SAFE in my home and spend time with family” or “The most IMPORTANT places, such as medical centers, pharmacies and grocery stores, remain open”.
- And above all, keep a sense of humor. It helps. You might consider purchasing these commemorative earrings:
During this time, we have good reason to be disappointed and frustrated, but we have even better reason to hope, for we serve the God of all comfort and provision.
“Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight.” Psalm 94:19
If there is anything that we can do for you during this time, do not hesitate to ask. We are praying God’s peace over you and your family today!