Gratitude Doesn’t Stop in a Pandemic

I haven’t posted since early in the pandemic. There are lots of reasons for this, but probably the most important is that I have never worked as hard as I’ve worked in the past twenty months at any other time in my life. Children, teens, and adults have been hit hard emotionally by the stress, isolation, and uncertainty brought about by COVID-19. Many are dealing with illness, the deaths of loved ones, unemployment, and fear in the workplace. The politicization of the virus and how best to manage it has caused ruptures in relationships. People are struggling, and that has meant an incredibly busy and stressful period for all my colleagues in the mental health field and me.

Just as many of you do, I reflect on the blessings in my life every Thanksgiving, This year, it feels important to name them in a more official way and so, here goes:

  • My created family which includes my husband, my daughter, my son, and my dog. Nothing makes me feel more centered, more at peace, more loved, and more thankful than the times, like this Thanksgiving, when we are all together.
  • My family of origin which includes both my parents who are still active and healthy at 87 years old, my two older brothers, and my older sister. We don’t see each other often and we don’t see eye to eye on many important things, but I am who am I am in large part because of the family I grew up in and I love them all dearly. I also love my brother-in-law, who has been an amazing support since my sister has been experiencing serious health problems, as well as all of my nieces, nephews, their spouses, and my great nieces and nephews.
  • My friends, old and new, who have brought me the right mix of levity and gravity as we’ve navigated this ordeal together. I would love to name them all, but I would feel terrible forgetting someone. You know who you are!
  • Science and the scientists who are working tirelessly to bring us out of this pandemic through the development of vaccinations and treatments.
  • Front-line healthcare workers, who despite dealing with all of the same challenges everyone else is plus working life-endangering jobs, never got to work from home or be furloughed or keep themselves safe by social distancing. I am especially thankful for those who are working hard to make sure under-represented and under-served communities are getting access to medical care and vaccinations.
  • Teachers because they were lifelines for many young people during lockdowns, and they did it while taking care of their own families and coping with their own fears. I do not exaggerate when I say that I am certain some young lives were saved by caring teachers who went above and beyond to support students in crisis.
  • My faith community, especially those who decided to gather in worship outside for most of a year when our Quaker meeting house was locked down. Those wintry Sunday mornings when the thermometer hovered just above freezing and we sat all bundled up in a quiet circle were truly a lifeline for me.
  • Social justice warriors who are out there fighting inequity, oppression, and injustice wherever they see it and striving to make the world a place of plenty for all – plenty of food, shelter, health care, education, freedom and the very basics of acceptance and belonging. You are heroes!
  • Musicians, poets, novelists, and artists and those who share their talents through teaching who have continued to create beauty and connection through their crafts when the world has felt very unbeautiful. A special shout-out to singer-songwriter Susan Werner who livestreamed a concert every Sunday evening for most of a year. Even though I can now enjoy live music in person, I miss Susie on Sundays. Also a special shout out to the Open Book Writers Group, Fran Quinn and his amazing poetry workshops, and the Oasis Group who nurture me as a writer and poet and to Marlis Kraft who is a patient and encouraging classical guitar teacher.
  • My colleagues in and outside of my private practice who have supported those struggling with mental health issues during the pandemic even when they felt burned out by it themselves. Much gratitude also to the office staff of my practice that kept the wheels turning under very difficult circumstances for months.
  • My students and other supervisees who remind me week after week why I love teaching so much and who went with the flow when they had to begin seeing clients virtually. They bring me a great deal of hope for the future.
  • Trader Joe’s for keeping my pantry and refrigerator stocked and me safe while shopping and the awesome employees who managed to smile with their eyes while masked throughout this entire ordeal.
  • Nature and my dog’s never-ending willingness to walk with me so that I can enjoy the sights and sounds and fresh air this world still offers up, despite a global pandemic.

I know how lucky I am that no one close to me has become seriously ill or died from COVID-19. I realize that this is a result of the privilege that I was born into as a white, cis, straight woman with access to an excellent education and a family with the means to help me until I was ready to launch. Perhaps one day, I will be able to express thanks for equity and justice for all of humankind. Until then, friends…

Happy Thanksgiving!

About Dr. Sayers

I am a child psychologist and mother of two. This blog is about the lessons we, as parents, can learn about parenting from the things that child clients have told me over my 20 years in private practice. I continue to work with children and families at Southampton Psychiatric Associates (www.southamptonpsychiatric.com) which serves Bucks, eastern Montgomery, and northeast Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania. In addition, I train psychology graduate students and psychiatry residents at Temple University.
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