It’s hard to write about the coronavirus pandemic because readers in different states and countries are experiencing it differently. I write this on Thursday, April 23rd, from the state of Ohio where Governor Mike DeWine has taken these actions:
- He closed bars and restaurants as of March 15th.
- He closed schools as of March 16th.
- He issued a stay-at-home order for all citizens – which also closed all “non-essential” businesses – starting March 23rd.
- On April 16th, he announced there will be a very gradual reopening of the state starting May 1st, but has not given the details yet.
For me, personally, I have been sheltering in place since March 13th. I take a walk in my neighborhood daily, but thanks to adult kids, I haven’t even been to a grocery store. Given that background, here are the stages I am going through. These stages might be entirely different from the stages you are going through, but the bottom line is that I am giving myself – and you – permission to feel whatever the heck we feel during these strange, difficult, frightening, challenging times.
Stage 1: Terrified
I thought I was comfortable with the concept of my own demise – someday – but to imagine going through a major illness and dying without any of my loved ones nearby was horrifying. Knowing that drugs to ease my passing were possibly in short supply did not help matters. And imagining this fate for any of my kids – or God forbid grandkids – was enough to push my panic button.
Early in the pandemic, my son (age 43) and I both knew someone in our age group who had died from it. We wondered aloud to each other if after the pandemic we would spend weeks going to belated funerals to honor these friends. Images on TV of another country where newspaper obits went on for pages exacerbated this fear.
At that point, cases in Ohio were expected to peak at 10,000 new diagnoses a day by April.
Stage 2: Taking a few deep breaths to calm myself and then gathering information
Governor DeWine has a news conference every day at 2:00, and I think of it as must-see-TV. He and Dr. Amy Acton – the Director of the Ohio Department of Health – share the cold, hard facts daily but always with calm, soothing voices. They remind me of that scene in Three Men and a Baby (see it here) where Tom Selleck is reading a magazine report of a bloody boxing match to the baby in a voice that sounds like he is reading a nursery rhyme. When asked about it he says, “It doesn’t matter what [you] read. It’s the tone you use. She doesn’t understand the words anyway.”
Acton and DeWine are clearly aware of this concept. After weeks of hearing their calm voices, my own inner voice has taken on that tone. Of course, it helps that they seek expert advice, make decisions based on it, and explain it to me and other viewers in detail.
At this point, Ohio has flattened the curve. A surge never happened here. I think of this as a public health success and am grateful to be living in a state where a strong leader took strong measures.
Stage 3: Feeling angry with those who doubt there was/is a national health crisis
Stage 3/Part 2: Feeling angry with those who want to turn this into something political instead of medical
Stage 4: Feeling apprehensive, nervous, uncertain, scared, and worried in anticipation of restrictions being lifted
On Thursday, April 16th, DeWine announced he would begin lifting restrictions in Ohio as of May 1st. He prefaced this news by quoting Winston Churchill. These words were originally spoken to the people of England in 1942 after they won their first battle in WWII. Churchill/DeWine said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Frankly? I’m not sure it’s a great idea to reopen Ohio. But here’s the deal: I trust DeWine to be as fact-based and strategic in reopening Ohio as he was in shutting it down.
Stage 5: Taking a few more deep breaths to calm myself as I wait and see
It may be easier for me to wait and see than it is for others because I am a homebody. Other than taking my morning walk, it would never occur to me to leave the house. I’m six weeks into self-quarantine, and I’m not itching to get out.
Additionally, I feel that by the time I get to the other side of the pandemic (please God) I need to be a different/better person, and I have no idea what that will look like. I need time to figure it out.
Until then, I hope nothing happens to get me back into Stage 1. But if it does, you can count on me to be all aflutter as I flap my wings and squawk because that’s what I do.
You’ve got thoughts and feelings too. Please use the handy comment section below to let me know what they are.
Looking for things to do while sheltering-in-place? Read a good book! Check out the new book review section of my website for suggestions. (Click here.)