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This hurt, a lot

March 23rd, 2020 by Kenneth Abrahams

Honestly, I am already sick of the terms social distancing, unchartered territory or waters, not to mention the word surreal. These are words or phrases that I had rarely, if ever, uttered prior to about two weeks ago. Contrary to some popular opinion, I am not obtuse, clearly, I understand the need for social distancing in order to stay healthy; I wish this was not the world in 2020 but it is. So many have said that they can’t put into words the way they feel about what has happened or continues to happen. That is something that up until recently I too struggled with. There are words I am using to describe it: pain, fear, uncertainty but also positivity and hope are a few that immediately come to mind.


Pain, so many are in pain. I’m not even certain where to begin. People that have lost family members or friends. Perhaps they were elderly with some underlying medical conditions. That doesn’t in any way ease the pain for those who loved that person. Those that have elderly family members feel the pain of no longer having the ability to visit them, hug them, hold them and reassure them. Spouses of elderly people that are in hospitals or care facilities that can no longer go visit them are more than likely in incredible pain. 


So many of the students, staff, HR professionals and others are also feeling the pain. Events that have been planned for months have been canceled or postponed. Seniors in college have had all their year-end plans/celebrations dashed in an instant. They will all have good intentions of making it back to campus for reunion but those classes will never ever be together in their entirety again. Families will never have the thrill of seeing a child, sibling or in some cases a parent walk across that stage clutching their diploma. There will be no photos with friends and classmates. No last-minute nostalgic walks around campus for the last time will be had. Seniors in high schools and colleges will have a memorable senior year but for all of the wrong reasons. 


There is incredible pain among the most vulnerable of our populations. Food pantries and other establishments that serve the poor, homeless or simply those down on their luck that rely on volunteers and donations from local communities are already feeling the pain. Food and volunteer shortages are making it hard for them to complete the work that they need to do. Charities of all kinds are facing similar challenges. Many people look at the Boston Marathon as just a 26.2-mile race, but it is so much more than that. In this state, it is the largest single day fundraiser for a broad spectrum of charities. If the race is run in September organizations relying on that money will eventually get it but for some not getting it in April will be a significant hardship. Imagine the pain of being a new mother who cannot show their beautiful baby off to friends, family or co-workers. 


Fear is palpable in many people. They fear not only getting the disease but passing it on to the sick, high risk or elderly. In our lifetime no one has ever seen anything like this. Watching the news coming out of Italy seeing the army taking away bodies because cemeteries are full and they have no place to lay them to rest are images that fill people with, at the very least, concern. Not seeing an end in sight or having a specific projection is fearful for so many of us. They fear for themselves, elderly parents or relatives and those that may not have access to healthcare. Some are fearful of having their freedom to move about curtailed by this virus. 


Uncertainty is clearly an emotion that many of us are dealing with. As stated above, uncertainty about when this will end. If I get this, how sick will I be and for how long? Who will care for elderly parents, especially those that are far away?  What will this do to the economy? Will I have a job when it is over? Is the company that I work for able to survive until this passes? Does the government have a plan to deal with both the medical and financial implications of this? Will there be a 2020 election? What are the chances there will be a shelter in place order in my town, city, state or the country?


So many questions with so few answers. We all get conflicting news reports along with tons of gossip, hearsay, and plain misinformation. We have all heard whispers or rumors from people that “are in the know” or have a direct connection to any number of politicians that a shutdown is imminent or that the Army will be deployed to institute martial law in the next 72 hours. We just don’t know because my suspicion is that they really don’t know.  Using that term, I am weary if we are, in uncharted waters. 


Through all of this there is positivity and hope. Yes, there are those that are hoarding toilet paper, paper towels and Lysol wipes but there are so many stories of others reaching out to friends, neighbors or total strangers and helping. Running errands, buying food, bringing people to doctors’ appointments is how some have shown that in the most trying of times we can succeed. There are many people that are putting the needs of others ahead of their own concerns and well-being. Stores are now offering Seniors only shopping hours, often early when the shelves are full to ensure that they have what they need. 


People are making sure to connect electronically like never before. Many groups, businesses and organizations are holding online conversations to make sure they stay connected. There are new ideas cropping up hourly to keep populations engaged in a multitude of different ways. We need creative solutions to so many new situations and people around the globe have answered the call. One cannot help but be positive and filled with hope.


What about me you ask? I am feeling all of the above. Despite being somewhat of a homebody, I enjoy dinner with friends, the occasional trip to the bowling alley and frequent trips to the gym. All that has ended. Walks with my dog while keeping my distance from others is the exercise I get now. We have had to close our office, which for someone like me is hard on a number of levels. Routine is important to me, and believe it or not I like going into the office. There are so many things that I miss about the day to day interactions with the people that I work with. Some of those people it has been a 20 or even 30-year run. Gone is the daily banter and a semblance of normalcy. 


I also struggle with how to deal with our clients. There is genuine empathy for what they are going through but at the same time I am concerned about the future of FUN Enterprises, Inc. Then I have pangs of guilt even feeling conflicted. Last week we made the painful decision to lay off our staff. Several of them pushed us to do that because they want to be able to return to FUN when this is over. Intellectually I know we didn’t have a choice but that didn’t make it any easier. It was painful to do. Wayde and I both felt as if we had let people down. Had we not prepared enough? Should we have saved more money? What could/should we have done differently? There is a big part of me that knows we couldn’t have done much to prevent the spot we find ourselves in today but emotionally it hurts. Our future is no less certain than so many others. We have no idea how long this will last or what things will look like when we return in 2, 3, 4 or 5 months. 


Overall, I am hopeful and feel very honored. Our staff has been amazingly supportive asking what they could do to help. For years, we have talked about our clients as being the best and this situation has done nothing to change my belief. As this broke a flood of emails, messages via social media, calls and texts were sent our way. All of them expressing concern but letting us know they believe that we will get through this. I believe that too. We all know this will end and when it does many of us will be stronger then when it started. To all that read this, know that we at FUN are sending positive thoughts your way and we can’t wait to see all of you again, especially closer than 6 feet.


About the author:
Ken Abrahams is a Sociology Major from Connecticut College and has been fascinated to see the way that society has reacted to this. Thank you for your wisdom and guidance so long ago Jerry Winter, Robert Hampton and Art Ferrari, you will never know how much you have helped me and continue to do so. 


Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash


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