Connecting With Our Loved Ones When We Can’t Be Together
In these unprecedented days of the global pandemic due to COVID-19, many of us are suffering due to the necessity of being separated from our loved ones, even if they are in the hospital, or a long-term care or hospice facility. The inability to be at the bedside of the people we care about when they are seriously ill or dying causes even greater grief and pain than we are already experiencing due to their condition.
However during this challenging time it is important to remember that our love is not limited by time or distance. Love, like energy, is universal and can never be destroyed. In fact by using our creativity we can find ways to connect and communicate with our loved ones even when we can’t be physically present with them. Here are some suggestions for sharing our love at a distance:
Call or video chat
If your loved one has a phone or tablet you may be able to call them or arrange to have a video chat online, providing they are able to participate. This may require the help of a staff person if the patient doesn’t know how to use the device or isn’t well enough to talk on their own. Remember to keep your conversation brief and focus on the messages that really matter: love, forgiveness and gratitude.
Mail cards and letters
You can express your feelings in writing and send old-fashioned mail to your loved one at the facility where they are receiving care. If they are well enough to read you can compose a letter describing why you love them and showing your gratitude. If reading is difficult you could send a drawing with just a few words of love that could be placed near the bedside for your loved one to see.
Make a small photo album
Compile some special photos into a small album and mail it to the facility. Not only will your loved one enjoy seeing the pictures but they can share them with staff members too to help them get familiar with the patient’s circle of love.
Record messages or music
On a smart phone you can record voice messages that can be sent to your loved one’s phone or tablet and played for them. You could also send an ipod that has been pre-loaded with your loved one’s favorite music so it can be played for them when they are feeling lonely.
Daily dose of love
If there comes a time when you are no longer able to talk with your loved one, you might create a small altar or area in your home devoted to that person with a photo, candle, flowers and any special items that remind you of them. Each day set aside time to think about them and send love and gratitude across the distance that separates you. Remember again the key messages of love, forgiveness and gratitude as you contemplate your relationship.
Hold a family vigil
When death is drawing near you can design a family vigil where you and others can come together online through a platform like Zoom or Skype. Light candles to begin your vigil, read poems or prayers, and ask each person to tell a story about your loved one to honor them. Keep sending your love throughout the vigil and envision it surrounding your loved one with comfort, light and peace. Imagine that you are right beside your person, watching over them and accompanying them during this time.
We hope that you will find comforting ways to connect with your loved one as we navigate this challenging time together. As you hold a vision of your loved one, no matter where they may be, remember to send your love to those who are caring for them as well. The staff members of hospitals and nursing facilities are under a great deal of stress right now and doing their best to stand-in for family and friends so that their patients will not feel alone. By offering the caregivers your love too you are helping to sustain and comfort them as well. Until that day in the future when this pandemic resolves may we all learn new ways to love and care at a distance.