…what it means to be caring in a soulful way!

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen so many examples of heroic behavior. My God, just look at our healthcare first responders… doctors, nurses, physician assistants, hospital administrators, hospital maintenance personnel, lab couriers, EMS technicians, our police and firefighters, and every touch point person along the way putting other people’s well-being ahead of their own personal safety.  

And it doesn’t stop there. Over the past month or so, we have become acutely aware of the many people throughout our society risking heightened exposure to the virus for our benefit. This includes all the people working in our grocery stores, postal and delivery services, waste disposal and more, ensuring we all have the food, materials, and services necessary to live and function as close to normal as possible.  

Before COVID-19 invaded us, did you ever take a step back to realize how much of our daily lives are dependent on the day-to-day efforts and hard work of so many? I would like to say I did, but I know this is only partly true.  And while I can say with certainty that I consciously thank people for their efforts, I’ll also say I can do it a lot more!

This morning, I walked into my local grocery store, with mask and gloves on of course, to get a cup of coffee. There was a line of eight people waiting. When my turn came, I asked the young man standing behind me what he would like to drink or eat and told him it was on me…Happy Friday! He was very surprised and appreciative. He ordered a coffee but declined anything to eat, saying the coffee was enough, but I just didn’t buy his response. Just then, Monica, the woman working behind the counter, pulled out a large zip lock bag that included two pieces of fruit, a muffin, and another baked food item, offered it to the young man and we both encouraged him to take it, which he did. I thanked Monica, but when I went to pay for his coffee and bag of food she would not take anything for the food. You see, I found that Monica makes several of these food bags each day and distributes them “free of charge” to people who come to the counter who she feels could use the help! 

Yes, since Monica learned about COVID-19, she has been purchasing food out of her own pocket and preparing it for the sole purpose of helping others in need during this crisis… Wow!

If that wasn’t enough of a gift to observe, an hour after returning to my home I was listening to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily press conference when at the end of his prepared remarks he conveyed a personal story by reading a letter he received from a retired farmer from Kansas named Dennis.

Dennis and his wife Sharon are in their 70’s. They are especially concerned about COVID-19 because Sharon has only one lung and periodically has respiratory issues and also has diabetes. However, after hearing about the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages for hospital employees in New York, the epicenter of the virus, Dennis, who had five N95 masks left over from his farming days, sent the governor one of the masks and asked him to please give it to a New York first responder in need. 

Imagine that, an elderly couple nearly 1,200 miles away from New York with serious personal health concerns of their own giving up resources that could protect their own health to help people fighting the disease for all of us … Wonderful!

As you know, I primarily write about family caregivers, a noble community of people who consistently put their own needs behind the needs of the loved one they care for. 

It was Roselyn Carter who once said “There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.

I began thinking that during a time of crisis, especially one like this, having the mindset of a family caregiver, just like Monica, Sharon and Dennis, may be the best way to behave. 

Victor, that ‘s nice. Each day I really intend to do something like this but “I am feeling down and even scared like a captive of this virus. What starts as good intentions ends because I just close down.” My response is… “I hear you because there are times I feel the same way. And, I guarantee so do Monica, Sharon and Dennis!” Fear can close anyone down quickly; the opportunity is to find a comfortable path beyond it. 

COVID-19 has been an in-your-face example of our vulnerability, showing us how little control we can have over our lives. However, although we may not be able to control the situation, we have complete control over how we react to it and what we do with it. 

There is no better time to move beyond our fears to embrace extending a hand to others in an effort to make their day a little better. To me, this is not about money, it is about a soulful feeling and taking the first step to make a positive difference in someone’s life, including your own!

Research shows kindness and generosity help build a sense of connection with others, decreasing feelings of loneliness and yes, even depression. Given the havoc COVID-19 is creating in our daily lives, now is the perfect time to pause and reset our priorities, incorporating these special qualities into our daily lives and joining the wonderful ranks of Monica, Sharon and Dennis!

Please stay healthy, safe and positive.

Help yourself. Help others.