I have been seeking out people’s coping mechanisms on social media during this crisis. With both joy and envy, I’ve watched people baking (for some reason banana bread seems prevalent), exercising and, not surprisingly, enjoying the comfort of their newly adopted dogs.

While we are all dealing with this in our own ways, I thought my past experiences might be helpful for any of you struggling to manage your feelings.

Since I have been hunkered down, I have been spending a lot of time thinking of other times in my life that were catastrophic: my college years during the AIDS epidemic, the premature birth of our twin boys and the death of our son Boaz, 9/11, my beloved, eldest sibling Linda dying of cancer. For me, each of these communal and personal events came on without my being properly prepared for dealing with them, nor did I understand how to effectively heal and mourn afterwards. Each time sadness draped tightly over me until finally, I had taken it on like a second skin.

For this slow, painful crisis I am steadying myself to act differently. Daily, I am trying to be more aware of how sad I am, allowing myself to be angry. Not feeling like making everything seem normal makes everything normal. Not trying to, or caring to, be productive. This time I recognize my old nemeses doom and despair trying to creep in. I, also, am allowing myself, albeit guiltily, the beautiful moments I am getting to spend with my family, cherishing the time my two boys are able to be together.

This time I am not waiting, I am mourning now.

I have had enough experiences to fend off being blind to this calamity’s effect on me. By not ignoring how horrific this all is, when it’s over I won’t have self-isolated from myself; that when we are free, I don’t keep myself imprisoned in my own fear, sadness and rage. I’ve done that. This time I won’t continue sheltering in place. 

With Love,

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  • Richie Jackson is the author of the book Gay Like Me published by HarperCollins, an opinion columnist for The Advocate, and an award-winning Broadway, television, and film producer who produced the Tony Award-nominated Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song on Broadway and executive produced Showtime’s Nurse Jackie (Emmy and Golden Globe nominee for “Best Comedy Series”) for seven seasons. As an alumnus of NYU, he endows a program at his alma mater to train the next generation of LGBTQ+ activists called the Richie Jackson LGBTQ+ Service Fellows. He and his husband, Jordan Roth, were honored with The Trevor Project’s Trevor Hero Award. They are the proud parents of two extraordinary sons.