By Jo Christner, Psy.D.

Having had a loved one recently die, every HOPE group member is keenly aware that life can take an unexpected and devastating turn in an instant. In the last couple of weeks, we have all had to deal with another unexpected development: isolation and the temporary cancellation of our weekly in-person support groups. That creates more grief upon grief.

Hands united in hope

Please remember that not meeting in person opens up other possibilities for growth. It opens up the possibility of forming a deeper if somewhat different sense of community. Community is a coming together… not always physically in the same room. It’s a coming together of spirit, caring and giving. It’s reaching out and touching each other’s hearts and souls. It’s about letting someone know that they’re not alone. We have social distancing but we need to create social solidarity.

The Power of Solitude

“Solitude is very different from a ‘time-out’ from our busy lives. Solitude is the very ground from which community grows. Whenever we pray alone, study, read, write, or simply spend quiet time away from the places where we interact with each other directly, we are potentially opened for a deeper intimacy with each other.” — Henri Nouwen

As this insight from Nouwen illustrates, the opportunity to be alone can be a blessing. In this sense our ability to appreciate the blessing depends on our attitude. If we can embrace some quiet time for self-reflection or meditating, we may discover that we have enhanced our ability to relate to each other (and ourselves) in a new and deeper sense.

The Power of Community

“Alone, we can do little; together, we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to reach out to each other, check on each other and stay in touch. Your groups may not be meeting in a room together but we carry each other in our energy and spirit.  Today, tonight, reach out to someone or many and let them know that they’re not alone. Use your phone, your email, your text… and yes, even postal mail. Let others know that you’re thinking about them and caring about their welfare. That’s what you can do. It not only helps another, it also helps you.

The Power of Action

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate action of its members.” — Coretta Scott King

Beyond reaching out to others individually, HOPE Connection is in the process of facilitating virtual group meetings. For those who are comfortable with technology, this will be an easy step to take. For others, the idea of becoming familiar with a new program on their smartphone or computer may be daunting. But now is the time for action. It may be as simple as reaching out to a son or daughter or grandson or granddaughter and asking for help using your computer. Consider it an act of love on your part, because nothing will bring more joy to their hearts than being able to help you connect to your beloved community.

Our solitude can be a time to rest and then to grow. Hold on and reach out. We’re here for you. HOPE Connection cares and is still connecting with you during this challenging time.

We ARE the HOPE Connection community.

Let’s all keep reaching out, connecting and making a difference.

We’re STILL here to see you through!