Silver-linings are defined as “a sign of hope in an unfortunate or gloomy situation.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly been a long and relentlessly gloomy situation. Many conversations with my community throughout this pandemic have been about experiences that are grievous and weary-making. But I have also shared sweet moments at work and around my table talking about the silver-linings that surprise us in this “unprecedented time”. (I put that in quotes because this phrase is so overused that it has lost meaning. And yet, it is true that for almost everyone living today, being alive during this global pandemic is unlike anything we have experienced.)
Naming a silver-lining is not white washing difficulty, putting a bow on a problem, or toxic positivity. It is an intentional practice explained by the National Institute of Health as: “The process of identifying benefits that may be helpful to orient people to the presence of protective factors in their lives, which are skills, strengths, or resources that can help them deal more effectively with stressful events.” And in regards to this specific moment in history the NIH goes on to say, “Silver-linings reveal sources of strength that include finding a sense of community, closeness, gratitude and a belief that the pandemic may spur positive social change.” (“Identifying Silver Linings During the Pandemic Through Natural Language Processing”, article from NIH, published online 9/3/2021.)
Silver-linings illuminate the hope that helps us persevere.
One of the brightest silver-linings in my pandemic story is this request from my son, who is a junior at Boise State University a 1000 miles from our home in San Diego: “Mom, can we Zoom once a week so you can teach me how to cook?”
The pandemic shut down in March of 2020 forced me to transition much of the support I offer as a hospice Bereavement Coordinator to virtual platforms. Like many people across the country, I engaged in a self-directed crash course in Zoom, while simultaneously learning how to effectively provide virtual support. When I finally came up to take a breath from the shutdown tidal wave I realized the possibility for my family – who are spread out over three states – to connect virtually. And now we gather on Zoom at least once a month to play a family game and catch up on each other’s lives.
Building on these experiences, Jordan asked me to teach him how to cook over Zoom. Once a week Jordan picks out a recipe using his Instapot and the six ingredient cookbook that I gave him when he moved from the dorms into an apartment. I have groceries for the dish selected delivered to him using Instacart, and stock the same items in my kitchen. And then we meet on Zoom to go step by step through the prep and cooking process – talking about how to chop an onion, why it’s important to sear the meat, and measurement conversions. While food cooks in his pressure cooker in Boise and my kitchen in San Diego, we chat about life. But the highlight is always watching him take the first bite of something delicious that he made.
This pandemic that opened a floodgate of grief and stress continues to surprise me with silver-linings of hope. It is the silver-linings that remind me that even in the darkest of circumstances love, care, and connection will always endure.
Silver-linings are a life raft when everything feels overwhelming and hard. I’d love to know some of your pandemic silver-linings. Please share in the comments.