Compassion In The Time Of COVID-19: It Should Go Beyond Your Family
It’s been nearly a month since our children stopped going to school. Early in the month of March, we had just returned from an incredible vacation, visiting grandparents and extended family in India. I have a vivid memory of telling my mom that I don’t feel like going back, but the kids have school- we have a home and responsibilities in the UAE. It was becoming evident that upon our return in all likelihood schools would soon close.
Friends of mine and I would speak about it, and took a unanimous decision a week before it was announced in the news, that let’s do it to support each other. There were birthday parties that were planned by classmates, and then one weekend it all came to a halt. A weekend birthday party is a pleasant welcome as we all find it incredibly easy for a couple of hours to pass by with fun and frolic, not having to be innovative in trying to entertain our young sprogs. Ours are for and two, so fun and easy, but they are two boys full of energy, and we all need to keep up.
A few weeks later we are all in the same situation, regardless of the help available, for which we are all eternally grateful. An incredible meal on the table –words of appreciation for the one that puts it together makes it more delectable.
I am a firm believer in routines – what’s been extremely helpful is that all schools in the UAE moved swiftly to an e-learning platform not for a fortnight but for an entire term. Sometimes one needs to bite themselves and remind oneself that this is actually happening. Every day one wishes for a silver lining and am positive that it will come. Just not yet!
Being an entrepreneur and living in a nation where help is available – the parenting, counselling and empathy that the environment demands are unprecedented. Our children are just like pieces of a puzzle.
The international borders have been closed. Once a connected world is disconnected. Thanks to technology it is still bound together with video calls on Zoom, WhatsApp, Hangouts, teams etc. But all this allows us to do is to check on our family and friends. What happens if there is an emergency? We cannot discount the fact that a loved one may need medical aid and care and we will not be physically by their side.
The only comforting fact that remains is this is not permanent. The void for one’s loss is nearly irreplaceable, but time is a great healer.
Recently, one of my domestic staff members lost her father in the Philippines. This was before the borders were sealed. As an employer, I was duty-bound to get her a ticket at the earliest. However, she declined my offer, saying that she was exceptionally fearful of contracting COVID-19 and thus had decided to not go back for her father’s last rites. I could not believe the sacrifice that she was making. All I could do was give her a hug and say that I was sorry for her loss and display empathy. The week went by and I saw her glued to her phone watching her father’s coffin being laid to rest via a video call – bawling relentlessly. The only comforting fact that remains is this is not permanent. The void for one’s loss is nearly irreplaceable, but time is a great healer.
This is just one story – there will be several more. We all have different ways of expressing gratitude to our universe- different societies and religion have their own beliefs– but for now the messaging may be common. Save the world – keep our loved ones and those of others safe. Let’s try and be empathetic and cherish who we have around us. We are caught up in pleasing our children, pandering to our partners – there are others that might need some attention. Just listening to them with a patient ear could make a big difference. They may not be blood relatives but a little humanity goes a long way.
This is a contributor’s piece, views expressed are author’s own