The shutdown hasn’t just lasted for a few weeks. We are all still on high alert, our anxiety heightened by political and environmental stress. On top of it all, we who are of a certain age group have been told we are not only in the high-risk category but that if we make it to hospital, likely someone younger and spryer will be triaged over us. Hard to keep our spirits up.
At the same time, we are the Elders (not just old people, Elders) and we have to continue to function as Elders in this crisis. That can happen in many ways. The grandson of one friend, for example, is just learning to read, so she spends 45 minutes each day reading with him virtually. It gives them time together and gives her daughter a break she can count on.
Taking care of the grandchildren isn’t all there is to Eldering, though. There is our perspective, our sense of having lived through a lot and watched others go through a lot. We know that things change, often quite quickly. After all, our collective lives – around the entire globe – have changed drastically in a stunningly short amount of time. They can and will change again. We know that. We don’t have chirpy optimism to offer – that’s not really our style – but we know how to navigate. We have skills we can draw on.
So how are you Eldering in the midst of anxiety, worry, and existential dread? It might show up in little ways – checking in on a young mother, encouraging a technophobe not to be afraid of Zoom, choosing one or two restaurants to help stay open. Above all, Eldering is relational. It doesn’t mean giving advice – who has advice about this situation anyway?? – but it means recognizing meaning. It means seeing the stories. We all have them now, because this is pretty much brand new territory for everyone. What are yours? Even if it’s just a sentence or two, tell a story in the comments. How are you coping? What are you noticing? How are you Eldering?