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How to Celebrate Easter Chronic Illness/COVID Style

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our lives globally, important personal milestones and celebrations still scatter our calendars — events we looked forward to and perhaps have been planning to celebrate long before COVID-19 became part of our daily vocabulary.

Often these events, such as birthdays and anniversaries or soon-to-arrive Easter, are opportunities for much anticipated gatherings with family and friends who we don’t often see. Maybe this year some will be able to gather, but for many around the globe, lockdown, isolation and curfews are still in force!

In 2021, we are still living in the land of coronavirus. The world is still in crisis, fighting a war against a virus invading our globe. Yes, a vaccine is available, but it will take time to roll out and not everyone will choose to have it. This Easter so many will again be isolated. Not necessarily alone, but isolated with those who normally live under their roof. Others will be completely alone for the first time in their lives, in quarantine in strange hotels or at home unable to be a part of even small family gatherings due to travel restrictions.

In the chronic illness community, in pre-coronavirus life, many of us lived a lockdown style life due to our disabilities, however many in our community were able to get out and about. Many members on my online support forum are more than able, under normal circumstances, to gather with family and friends, go to work, go shopping, go to the movies, cafes and restaurants, and generally enjoy a social life. So even within the chronic illness community, canceling celebrations of any kind is a challenge for many.

The Isolated Life

Some of us are used to an isolated life but we are not the norm. A true isolated life is not easy. It takes time, years even, to adjust to living an exclusive, isolated life. An isolated life is something I have learned to live with and have embraced with gusto. I want to live the best, fullest life possible, so acceptance has been essential. I’ve embraced total online shopping. I’ve had tele-consults with my medical team as far as possible for a few years now, well before COVID-19 knocked on our doors. I’ve always washed my hands constantly, rarely hug others, naturally social distance when out and self-isolate whenever I’m sick. I’ve had to do this for years to survive. I learned the hard way my immune system was compromised, and I easily picked up weird and wonderful viruses and infections, all of which were resistant to treatments. I know how hard an isolated life is, even though I’m blessed to have a loving husband living with me. Many with serious, disabling chronic illness, live alone, reliant on carers to visit and look after their daily needs. My heart goes out to these people, as their usual difficult circumstances are now even more stressful as a result of the virus pandemic.

I worry about the long-term effects on the wider healthy community due to COVID isolating, quarantine, stay at home restrictions. It will affect the mental health of so many. It’s not a natural way to live.

How Can We Survive a Life Without Celebrations?

The Easter holiday weekend no doubt will heighten the separation from family and friends, and the gravity of this continuing historical global crisis.

Not being able to go out to celebrate birthdays or other milestones, or have parties at home, is still having emotional impacts for many people in 2021. The feeling of grief will likely sneak up without warning. You may have those living with you in isolation, dealing with their own grief issues, reacting out of character to the smallest of daily life issues. Tensions may quickly build within your home. You may be completely alone and stuck in a quarantine room, feeling incredibly traumatized and cut off, experiencing a mix of emotions. So what can you do to survive and even enjoy Easter, and other celebrations, no matter your reason for being separated from family and friends?

I have a few tips which have ensured my husband and I have always enjoyed isolated special seasons, as they are our norm. I hope they help both the healthy and those living with chronic illness, who are not used to ongoing COVID living restrictions.

  • Plan a celebration schedule for the Easter weekend… keeping occupied really helps mental well-being.
  • Arrange video catchups via Skype, Zoom, etc. with as many loved ones as possible.
  • Even a good old-fashioned phone call can be a wonderful chance to chat and connect. I prefer phone calls as I’m never sure what my body will be doing. Generally, I can always answer the phone without the caller being aware of what I’m dealing with. I also find conversations are deeper on a phone call, away from the distraction of a computer or phone screen…. and undoubtedly there will be internet outages during busy holiday times impacting video chats.
  • Remember to connect with the people you are living with. It’s a wonderful opportunity for relationships at home to strengthen as we spend quality time together.
  • Plan a celebration menu. Good food you love is essential to making any celebration feel special.
  • Get everyone to pick a favorite movie and ensure there is “cinema time” in your celebration schedule.
  • Get some fresh air… go for a walk, sit in your garden, courtyard or balcony.
  • Read books, play board games.
  • Get dressed up on Easter Sunday to make it extra special, or just make an extra effort to look your best.
  • Or maybe have a favorite PJ day, especially if getting dressed up for work is your norm.

Really, the list is endless. I think the key to surviving isolation and restrictions with celebrating is to prepare in advance a celebration plan you’ll look forward to. You might not do everything on your schedule, but just the act of planning puts you in a headspace of productivity, helping you feel more positive in challenging circumstances.

Let’s face it, life is just odd at the moment and it’s only going to get stranger for a while. We are all in this together, which means none of us are really alone. We are all experiencing at the same time the same crisis, the same fears, the same uncertainties.

The years 2020 and 2021 will be years for the history books. We are writing the chapters together, so let’s embrace Easter and find ways to do something a little special, whether a household of one or five. With a little imagination, our special occasions can still be a bright space on the pages of history in the midst of an otherwise dark and uncertain time.

Don’t lose hope. Don’t let special days pass you by. We still need to live and have things to live for.

Take care, stay safe and I pray you really will have a Happy Easter, no matter your plans or circumstances

Getty image via NataliaDeriabina

Originally published: March 31, 2021
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