December 2, 2020/by Lesley Friedland and the FamilyKind Team
“I know that in life there will be sickness, devastation, disappointments, heartache – it’s a given. What’s not a given is the way you choose to get through it all. If you look hard enough, you can always find the bright side.” —Rashida Jones, Actor
Both Losses and Gains in 2020
by Nancy Nybergh, MA, LP, is a NYS licensed psychoanalyst and psychotherapist and Parent Educator for FamilyKind. and by Diane Hessemann, LMSW, is a social worker and FamilyKind’s Parent Education skills educator, Divorce Coach, Parenting Coordinator and GoodTalk4Parents facilitator.
2020 has been quite a year. We have experienced a global pandemic, protests for social justice, forest fires burning with smoke being seen thousands of miles away, severe hurricanes (as of this writing we are up to 30 named storms, double the usual for a hurricane season) and a “zombie tropical storm” (because why not, it is 2020). The pandemic and its subsequent isolation have created a sense of collective loss. As Kirsten Weir writes for the American Psychological Association, we have lost our sense of safety, social connections, personal freedom, and for some, job and financial security. For many, this has been an even harder road. For fear of becoming infected with COVID19, some of us have not gone out at all, felt physical touch by another for months and/or are unable to use virtual platforms as ways of “being” with others.
Weir also sees keeping social connections, even if they are virtual, as important to our emotional well-being as we experience an unprecedented loss of familiarity. She recommends journaling to identify ways to “name and claim” your feelings associated with your losses, instead of experiencing “wordless suffering.” In addition, she suggests naming your coping skills and drawing on strategies you have used in the past to deal with the feelings associated with challenging life circumstances.
It is normal and human to feel highs and lows during this time, even without tangible triggers. However, we need to embrace the highs and not just the lows. Our brains tend to be negatively biased by scanning our environment for events that will make us feel unsafe, so it takes effort to embrace the highs. It can be as simple as finding a favorite episode of “I Love Lucy” on the cable menu and giving yourself a break from the news! Laughing out loud “like the old days” can feel good to experience again. For a few minutes, the pandemic is forgotten.
The current times have afforded us an opportunity to think creatively with regard to how we connect with others, which in many instances, can be more touching. Image the impact of friends hosting a surprise “birthday party” that included online singing and a homemade cheesecake left at the front door. So many of us have been staying connected and honoring life milestones via Zoom baby showers, holiday dinners and even weddings! Some families have decided to reconnect in new and meaningful ways by sheltering in place.
This pandemic also has made many of us reconnect with nature and take time to explore outdoor activities. Maybe most importantly we have been given a “pause,” a time to evaluate how our life is progressing – and perhaps an opportunity to make meaningful adjustments.
While these times are incredibly challenging, we need to remind ourselves history is repeating itself. Those who lived through the 1918 pandemic got through it with much less medical knowledge and technology than we have today. The trauma associated with all that is happening now can be managed one day at a time, as it has been done historically. As Weir also says, we need to “let grief do its job” in order to go through and not around it in order to manage it. The skills we are learning now have the potential to carry us to heights we might truly be thankful for when our reconfigured stability returns.
Source: Weir, K. (2020, April 1). Grief and COVID-19: Mourning our bygone lives. http://www.apa.org/news/apa/2020/04/grief-covid-19
Just prior to the pandemic, Diane and Nancy started a monthly, online Secondary Trauma Group to support FamilyKind professionals in their work. As a result of the pandemic, this group also shares materials and facilitates discussions about primary trauma related to Covid-19.
Upcoming FamilyKind Happenings
Thank YOU for Supporting Our Holiday Auction
We want to thank everyone who supported FamilyKind’s Holiday Auction. We had bidders from throughout the country, whose contributions go directly into the virtual programming and services we are providing to families in need all over the world. We are especially appreciative of our dedicated volunteers who spent many hours, days and weeks organizing, cataloguing and promoting this event. FamilyKind is eternally grateful to be supported by so many kind and wonderful people.
7-Week Zoom Parenting Class Starts Saturday, January 16, 2021
This class will teach parenting skills that will last a lifetime. Taught online by parent educators, these valuable and easy-to-learn skills strengthen us to become the best version of ourselves as parents.
There is a $35.00 charge for the seven-week class with financial aid available. All parents and caregivers of children ages 3-13 are encouraged to participate in this class. New and returning participants are welcome. Registration details will be coming soon.
Catch Up on Your Peer-to-Peer Webinars
During December, our Peer-to-Peer webinar will be on hiatus for the holidays. This gives you some extra time to catch up on any topics you might have missed. Click here to view our on-demand recordings on:
Divorce, Covid and Relocation: Mediating Evolving Challenges for Co-Parents
GoodTalk4Parents: Better Communication between Parents
Mediation Review & Consulting Attorneys: What it Means to Be One & How to Work with One
Mediating with Attorneys In the Room: A Mediator’s Perspective
Co-Mediation: Are Two Heads Better than One?
Case Study: Separating and Divorcing During the COVID Crisis.
How Certified Parent Education Classes Help Advance Court Cases and Improve Family Outcomes
Save the Date – January 25th – 1 pm to 2:30 pm
Our next Peer-to-Peer webinar will be a special extended event on Monday, January 25th. The focus will be on LGBTQ legal trends and updates related to parenting, separation and divorce.
ACOD Support Group Starts Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Parental divorce can be deeply disruptive to young adults and have a significant impact on how their adult lives evolve. There is a false message from our culture that divorce does not really impact adult children because they may be away at college, living on their own, or even married with their own children.
Starting on January 26, 2021, this virtual support group for Adult Children of Divorce (ACOD) will meet on Tuesday evenings for 6 weeks via Zoom to address the specific needs of those who were 18 or older when their parents divorced. Facilitators of this group have both experienced divorce when they were young adults and are now professionals in the field. For more information and to register for a 15-minute consultation, please contact: Robyn Myler Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-316-2219.
A financial contribution of $90.00 is requested – financial aid available. To learn more about ACOD, please visit familykind.org/acod-committee.
Divorce Recovery Group Starts January 8, 2021
Divorce is a time of upheaval and crisis, which can be traumatic. This six-week, woman only course, will provide guidance and a road map to help navigate this transition with tools for grounding oneself through divorce. Tap into inner resources to manage and process the emotional roller coaster. Gain increased awareness and insight about relationship issues to develop a healthy post-divorce life by turning the divorce crisis into a time of healing and personal growth.
The sessions will be held on Friday mornings from 9:00 am to 10:30 am. $60 for six sessions with financial aid available. For more information and to enroll contact Barbara Bennett at Tel: 646-389-8020.