There are so many sick people around us and it is confusing to know what to think and feel. Do we feel guilty enjoying moments with our families or spouses when we know that our friends and neighbors have family members in the hospital? Even in situations when one’s own family member is in the hospital, the unfortunate reality is that one cannot visit them. Spouses cannot sit by their loved ones; they have to be engaged at home in their day to day lives. How does one manage one’s feelings when there is very little one can do to help? Does one appease one’s guilt by trying to pray every free minute, give donations or create new ways to give when there are limited things one can do?
How do we manage our conflicting feelings of guilt and enjoyment? How do we enjoy happy moments when so many people around us are suffering?
1. Guilt comes when you feel you have done something wrong, something you could have done to have prevented the ill from getting sick. However, as long as you have abided by social distancing and followed the recommendations for COVID-19, it has not been in your hands who gets sick and who does not. The fact that you are healthy or have recovered from COVID-19 does not change whether someone else would or would not have gotten sick.
2. When you have a good time, enjoy moments with your family or appreciate being in isolation, it does not make the sick more or less ill. Your enjoyment of life does not change other people’s prognosis. Instead of focusing on the “guilt,” take the time to focus on appreciating that you have good moments to enjoy. Turn the sadness to appreciation, because sadness does not help you or the person who is sick. However, the appreciation benefits your mental health and validates the people who are suffering by acknowledging that you are not taking your happiness for granted.
3. Set aside time to focus on the sick. Instead of feeling as though your whole day should be consumed by guilt and thinking of the ill and their families, give yourself time each day to hyper focus on them. Each person has a different amount of time to give; it can be a several minutes or hours to focus on using sadness and guilt for good. Whether it is to pray for them, to try and raise money, make meals or whatever action that you feel can bring positivity in this world and can make you feel that you are making a difference. It is important to create good out of our feelings and accomplish positive things. However, it is also important to allocate specific time to it, so that we don’t spend our whole day feeling “guilty” and unable to appreciate the good things in our lives.
4. If your own family member is sick it does not mean that you are expected to be sad all the time; in fact, there are no expectations at all as to how one should or should not feel. Each person will feel a different thing at different moments. You might feel sadness or worry, but it is also OK to indulge in a moment or many moments of happiness during the suffering. Remember, your moment of happiness does not make your loved one less or more sick. Happiness will keep you healthier and stronger longer.
We are living through a challenging period in time where we see suffering around us. It is important to empathize with the sick and their families, to create good out of sadness. Moreover, it is just as important to appreciate your good health and your loved ones. Remember that when you experience happy moments and intimate moments with your loved ones, it does not make anyone else more or less sick. Being able to turn happy moments into appreciation is creating meaningful moments and helping our mental health.
You can find out more about Gali by checking out www.galigoodman.com or you can call to set an in-person or remote appointment at (201) 870-0331.
Gali Goodman, is a bilingual licensed clinical social worker with a private practice in Englewood. She treats children, individuals, couples and families. Goodman earned a master’s degree from Columbia University School of Social Work and a master’s in special and general education from Bank Street College of Education and has amassed years of experience working with families, providing clinical and emotional support and guidance.