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What has the pandemic taught you?

On Friday, I conducted a burial of ashes ceremony for a lady's funeral I officiated during the first lockdown.

At the time of her funeral, there were only ten mourners permitted in the crematorium chapel. We were all scared because there wasn't any suitable PPE available, guidance was woolley, and none of us knew what was going on or how to adequately protect ourselves other than to sing happy birthday while washing our hands.

What followed was a gruelling twelve months of grief, sadness, frustration, and the feeling of being on a juggernaut of change from which there would be no return.

So what has the past year living and losing through a pandemic taught us about life (and death)?

  1. Family matters - we have learnt that we need to show up when people need us and that it is vital to have each other's backs. We realised that our family is an anchor to keep us grounded in a storm. How have we discovered this? Because Covid took away our families and the loneliness for so many has been palpable.

  2. Self-care is not self-indulgent - for so long, we have had it shoved down our throats that taking care of ourselves is selfish and that taking time for yourself or spending money on yourself is frivolous (there are starving children in the world, after all). Life pre-covid was so busy and fast-paced, we weren't spending time with our families; we were getting home from work exhausted after a long commute and a grind of a day. We then spent weekends sorting out personal admin, paperwork, cleaning etc. There was minimal downtime, and we were a nation of frazzled burnt-out individuals with no time for joy. Covid forced us to stop and take stock, spend time walking in nature and be still for a moment. "Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel" - Eleanor Brown.

  3. Pretending to be rich makes you poor. In our consumer-driven world, companies bombard us with advertisements telling us that we will be happy if we buy this or buy that. Most of us mortals can not afford this 'dream life', so we borrow money to fake it. We borrow to buy things we dont need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't like. With the pandemic forcing many of us out of work, the revolving door of getting paid to pay off the credit card or overdrafts has ground it to a halt leaving many of us trapped in a hell of our own making. If you are in debt, seek help and free yourself of the modern-day slavery of it all.

  4. Covid has forced us to look at the most fundamental questions of life. Why are we here? What have we done with our lives? What is important to us? With all that we know pulled from underneath us, we have realised that life is short and can be taken away in an instant. Being embroiled in the relentless pursuit of wealth and status is unfulfilling and takes our focus away from what is important. Family, nature, well-being, community, human need and purpose are the core values of who we are.

  5. Life is fragile, and we are not guaranteed a tomorrow. The veil between life and death is a thin one, and death forces us to accept that life is not black and white. The Tibetan monks believe that to die with a heart full of love sets our soul at peace, so put yourself in service to others and love yourself as though your life depended on it (because it does).

What has Covid taught you? Comment below


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