With the quick spread of the coronavirus, our world has changed so abruptly. I feel at various time confused, scared, sad, and angry. It’s been difficult to concentrate. I worry about those I love.
I also feel extremely grateful to those family and friends who check in with me regularly; to the health care workers who are nothing less than heroic; to those who are keeping vital services going despite the risks; and to my fellow dog-owners in the neighborhood who smile and wave from six feet away as we are out with our pooches. I should add that I also feel grateful to my dog, who makes me laugh many times every day.
You may have already figured out that the coronavirus presents CADIs with some special challenges. First, we have already learned the hard way that tragedy can strike out of nowhere. The Coronavirus is yet another reminder of this. As we once again are confronted with the fact that we have limited control over ourselves and our world, we may feel more anxious or frightened than usual.
In addition, unintentional killing has a moral component. In the aftermath of our accidents guilt and shame may consume us, and some of us worry that we are bad people despite decades of good deeds and good intentions. This concern with our moral worthiness may lead to heightened anxiety about the chances of inadvertently transmitting cornonavirus – might we once again unintentionally harm or even kill someone? This possibility scares me, so I am doing my very best to follow the advice about social distancing and hand-washing. I can’t eliminate the risk of transmitting coronavirus, but I can make good choices.
Third, people with moral injury or PTSD sometimes lose their sense of belonging and connection to others. Some CADIs withdraw from family or friends, either because they don’t feel deserving of support or because support is not available. While social distancing is a public health necessity at this time, the resulting isolation can re-stimulate or exacerbate feelings of loneliness and disconnection.
As one way of supporting yourself during this difficult time, I encourage you to consider how past trauma interacts with the trauma of the coronavirus. Therapy is available these days via telephone or internet if needed. Most of all, use your agency – even when the world feels out of control, we can follow the advice of public health professionals, take care of our nutrition and health, reach out to others to request or (even better) offer support, turn off the television or computer for some respite from the news, meditate and/or pray, and do those activities or tasks that make us feel better. For me, that includes writing this blog post and trying to refocus on the Accidental Impacts website and related work.
I hope these reflections are of some help. Also, remember you can share your thoughts about CADIs via comments to the website. You can also email me privately here, and I try to write back to everyone. It can take me a while though, so thank you in advance for your patience.