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Finding new ways to honor life events while social distancing

People are trying to adjust to a “new normal.” Sticking to small groups and social distancing is hard on everyone. It can be extra tough at holidays or for someone celebrating milestones or looking for comfort.

05/01/2020

“Milestones reflect our life’s journey,” said Kristin Merone, a licensed clinical social worker with AdvantageCare Physicians. “These experiences give our life richness, meaning, and purpose. It is important that we adjust as best we can to find new ways of celebrating these achievements and milestones during this challenging time.”

Here are a few ideas to help you recognize events and holidays differently.

 

Birthdays

Adults understand why they can’t have a party now. But for a child, it can feel devastating. The family can still celebrate, though, and use pictures or video conferencing to share the event with grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. (You can use free services like Skype and Zoom.)  


You can also hold digital celebrations with your child’s friends. The kids can make party hats and decorations, do guided crafts, or have virtual dance parties. Newly popular: birthday parades. Parents arrange for friends’ parents to drive their children by the birthday child’s home, honking the horn and waving signs with birthday greetings.


Older children may want to play online video games or have a long-distance sleepover on FaceTime. Ask parents if their kids want to draw or write a birthday greeting. They can send them to you in an email for your child to open.


Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Kids – and adults – can make crafts or handmade cards to mail or drop off.  Far away? Find a favorite photo of you with them, and send it by email (or, share on social media, if they are active) with a caring note.  Get their favorite restaurant meal delivered to the house or host a virtual brunch. If you live nearby, make a favorite meal or dessert and drop it on the doorstep. A card, a call, a drop-by – even to wave and blow kisses from the end of the sidewalk or backyard – will mean the world to mom or dad.  


Funerals

Wakes and funerals are canceled, leaving a gap in the rituals that can be so important to grieving families and friends. “It’s become challenging to honor the loved ones we have lost,” said Merone. “But we can connect with technology, phone calls, and meaningful gestures.”


There are many meaningful ways to honor a life and mourn a loss. Write a card or a letter to let people know you’re thinking of them.  If you’re able, make a memorial donation (charities will often let the family know). If you are grieving, call others who share your loss to swap stories and relive memories. Gather stories, photos, and videos to send to others or post to a memorial website.

 

Graduations

Graduation is a symbol of hard work and achievement at any age. Many schools have canceled commencement ceremonies but are scheduling alternatives – streaming or at a later date. In the meantime, find ways to celebrate a graduate's accomplishments. It may seem silly, but a living room ceremony is better than nothing! Choose a day, send out invitations, and stream the ceremony over social media so friends and family can watch. Make the day all about the graduate, with their favorite food or activities. Let them know how proud you are.

 

Weddings

It’s easy to say the most important part of a wedding is the marriage. But try telling that to a couple postponing or canceling their special day after months of planning and waiting. They may be trying to get back deposits, negotiate with vendors, and help guests juggle travel plans.

Let them know their love is still something to celebrate. Send cards or messages with your well wishes now, when they need them most. Share stories of wedding fails to make them laugh. Create a “survival kit” with motivational stickers or cards, snacks, and silly wedding-related items to keep their spirits up.

When the time comes to celebrate, they’ll remember the love that surrounded them.


Everyday accomplishments

Don’t forget to enjoy the little things, too. Binge watch a new TV series? Finish a book? Learned a new skill? Did the laundry? That’s reason enough to celebrate. Any excuse to laugh, call friends, or enjoy a good meal is a good one. And keep an eye on the simple stuff. “Focusing on a routine and healthy lifestyle behaviors such as a consistent sleep pattern, healthy nutritional intake, and exercise can help with emotional balance and stress reduction,” said Merone. "Trying our best to have a daily structure is important to maintain a sense of normalcy.”

 

AdvantageCare Physicians is a New York-based physician group. It is part of the EmblemHealth family of companies, along with ConnectiCare and WellSpark Health.