Communities unite to weather coronavirus storm
Guest column

Communities unite to weather coronavirus storm

Currently, as we navigate living in the time of the coronavirus, a pandemic that is affecting the whole human species, we are faced with a time of great uncertainty and unknown — which evokes a good deal of fear for many of us.

This fear is a normal response to the unknown, to the illness and losses we are facing, and we all need to find healthy ways of coping so that our fear does not overwhelm us and interfere with continuing to live our lives.

It is so important for all of us to remember that we are not alone in this. Not only are we facing this in our families and local communities, but people are meeting this challenge across the globe, which allows us to learn from one another’s experience, to build empathy and compassion for ourselves and for others, to support one another and hold each other up during these tender times. Breathe. Try to stay calm and in the present, and take heart, remembering that we are part of the natural world, and as such are resilient and strong.

This early spring, as I tended my garden — with many small plants surfacing and then being met with icy cold temperatures and no snow cover to protect them — I worried whether the plants could survive. But the amazing wonder of nature is filled with examples of resilience; life surviving against all odds, and as evidence of nature’s durability, my once-small plants continue to grow and adapt to the changing season that is before us. We too are resilient and strong, each of us weathering difficult and sometimes almost insurmountable challenges, traumas, illnesses, losses — and yet we move forward and we pick up the pieces and continue on.

Today, even though the pandemic hits us at the very heart and fabric of our world, we have the opportunity to face it together, with courage, compassion and kindness. It is an opportunity to put aside the differences that divide us and instead work together as we face these difficult times. The virus has given us the chance to slow down, to consume less, to consider what is most important. We are faced with making choices to protect ourselves and our loved ones, as well as making choices that protect the larger community. It has reminded us of our shared humanity.

And all across our communities, our big, vast planet, people are standing up to this challenge by helping neighbors and people who cannot safely get out, by donating and volunteering, providing needed services in the community, providing health care and other needed high-risk services, creating art and music to sustain us, supporting employees with needed benefits; helping one another no matter what our political affiliations are, no matter our race and religious preferences, no matter who we love. As tragic and difficult as this time is, it has also shown us what compassion and caring look like — and what humanity is capable of — when we work together.

So, as we move forward dealing with this crisis, remember: You are not alone, and like all of nature, we are resilient and can weather the storms. Reach out, support one another and do your best to be kind, because we are all in this together.

Sue Silverberg is a licensed clinical professional counselor in Missoula. 

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