Personal take on COVID and our ‘new normal’

by Tamara Harvey Braswell

When the news of COVID-19 first hit China, I watched with concern, but life continued as normal. When the news hit Italy, that got a little closer to home because Italy is one of my favorite vacation places. Then the virus started to spread like wildfire in the U.S.   

The news was about to become personal when the first few cases were reported in Colorado, where I live.  

I never thought in a million years I would be homebound, working remotely every day, rarely going out, and wearing a facemask when I did.  I NEVER thought Denver’s I-25 would be congestion free. 

COVID-19 is a game changer

Some of us may be going through some really tough times.  We may be sick with the virus or taking care of a loved one who is.  Some of us may have friends and family in another part of the country or world who have the virus or are sick from other causes.  They need our attention and we can’t be with them in-person.  Some of us may be coming under increased financial pressure as we have been laid off or our work hours greatly reduced.  

Some of us may have weddings and funerals to attend…not to mention family reunions, long-planned vacations, and Easter and Passover gatherings. Because of COVID-19, we must stay apart so we can be together again in a safer, healthier environment. 

When we transition back, I don’t think it will ever be quite the same  

I hear a lot about “new normal.”  That’s a popular term therapists tell the newly bereaved.  A woman loses her husband to suicide.  She is advised to adapt to a “new normal.”  Years later, she loses her sister in a house fire and then her son in a car crash…all within a three month period.  She is told again to adapt to a “new normal.”

That woman is me

I know I am not alone in deep loss.  Each of you has gone through trying times and some more than others.   How do we get through the dark mire of such grief?

We each take our own path.   Somehow, we manage to put one foot in front of the other, even with major setbacks.  Life isn’t what it was.  We grasp for a “new normal” to keep on going.   

When I lost my son 19-year-old son Logan in 2016, I thought my life was over.  I didn’t want a new normal.  I just wanted the pain to stop.  

I had to keep on going because my journey was far from over.  

Had I stopped, I wouldn’t have started a new life.  I wouldn’t have gotten married to a wonderful person, also a bereaved parent. I wouldn’t be here in Colorado working for the DOT (Colorado Dept. of Transportation) to help save lives.   

How does my personal story relate to what all of us are going through with COVID-19?  I believe all of us are going through challenging times trying our best to adapt to a new normal in an environment where we are making necessary sacrifices to prevent the spread of this virus. 

As my Mom would always say, “This too shall pass,” but it will leave a deep impression on us and change us in ways to be more careful with our surroundings and our health.  May be the COVID-19 crisis is bringing us closer together  via technology at a time when we have to be apart. 

The pain of losing loved ones does not pass, but it can eventually transform you to LIVE life as it is happening and not take a single day for granted.   That thinking can be applied to all of us.

Perhaps our “new normal” is much more than a temporary state of facemasks and social distancing.  Perhaps our “new normal” is transforming us to be more understanding, to check in more with each other, and to find more creative ways to live our lives in a very difficult time.   That is what makes us resilient.  That is what makes us strong.

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