Witnessing my father in the hospital for a total of 21 days while not allowed to physically be there with him was one of the most difficult and powerless situations I’ve experienced in my life.
During this first hospitalization, I vividly remember a time when my dad was there with the doctor while I was on Facetime with them. The doctor was nearing the end of the visit and asked me if I had any other questions or needed anything else. I looked at the doctor and I said, “Yes, can you please just go hold his hand.”
As my father literally fought for his breath in the hospital, twice, by himself, but never alone I moved through every emotion possible and many times, inspired by my dad and other friend’s and family’s strength and faith I found the energy to keep going. When you love someone so much you will do whatever you can to take away their pain and help make them feel better.
Throughout dad’s hospital stay, meditation and music soothed his body, mind and soul. In an attempt to keep dad company and also let him rest, upon his second hospitalization, organized evening Zoom concerts with musicians from around the country and all the way down to Argentina kept our family and community connected. Music styles ranged with performances by The Brothers Landau, David Roth, J.D. Mata and Phill Brush, just to name a few. Although these concerts were started to keep my dad company, it became more clear the longer they happened, there was a much greater purpose happening with these concerts. These virtual shows created community, supported all of our mental health and gave musicians a place to perform during a time that many weren’t performing.
MuzicRX was born in response to this, and now continues to create community through live musical performances in order to support collective mental health and wellbeing because although you may be by yourself, you are never alone.
Since we were not allowed to be the warm bodies in the room holding dad’s hand, sharing stories, telling him it would all be okay we used a lot of Zoom and Facetime to stay connected.
Here are five resources which helped me during this most uncertain and scary time while my dad was fighting COVID.
- Friends and family- Stay connected. Talk about what’s going on and be real. It’s really easy to forget to take care of yourself when you’re going through an experience like this. With the situation at hand, combined with the grief and powerlessness, there were many days I forgot to eat, even drink water and taking a shower brought on anxiety because I was afraid to miss a call from the doctors and hospital. My anxiety peaked, my sleep decreased and my appetite was non-existent .There were a lot of things happening all at the same time and it was important to make sure I was taking care of myself. Sometimes it took a reminder from a friend or family member. Sometimes it was someone there to listen as I cried and felt scared. Having community around was paramount in feeling supported.
- Prayer- This is an extension of community because there were many people around my dad, family and me offering prayers. At times, I found myself on the ground in prayer, completely in surrender and leaning into the divine. Sometimes this looked like singing the Jewish prayer, Mi Shebeirach, and other times just talking to God. This looked like listening to music and finding comfort in the lyrics and sometimes sitting outside next to the creek in deep uncertainty and watching the water flow and listening to the birds chirping. Some of these resources were Urban Adamah, Avodat Lev, Aleph’s Kesher Fellowship, and the clergy of Beth Yeshurun in Houston, TX and Agudas Achim in Austin, TX and I’m sure I’m forgetting others so forgive me.
- COVID Grief Network- I received 6 weeks of support through the COVID Grief Network, and it was really helpful especially, as I transitioned back to Houston while also having a parent so sick. Their mission is undoing isolation for young adults in their 20s and 30s grieving the illness or death of someone close to COVID-19. It was a pretty simple process, I filled out this form, and then a couple weeks later was matched with someone. They offer one on one offerings and also have a private Facebook group for support.
- Music Tunes on Zoom- These started to keep my dad company and came to be something I found much comfort in to be able and connect with my dad and our community while not having to discuss what was going on medically. I found some purpose in being able to organize these and also got a dose of music as medicine for my own spirit. This project has continued and can be found at MuzicRX.
- Facebook Survivor Corps- With over 140,000 people in this group, it was another place I felt like I was not alone in having a parent sick with COVID. This group provided a resource to better understand symptoms of what others were experiencing while fighting this virus. Survivor Corps is a grassroots movement educating and mobilizing COVID-19 survivors and connecting them with the medical, scientific and academic research community.
Although this is not an exhaustive list of resources, these five things were very important to help keep my basket full so I could show up for my dad, siblings and other family members.
I cannot imagine going through this time without the love and support of all of my family, friends, and spiritual communities and I am forever grateful to all of them. If you are one of them, THANK YOU!
If you’re interested in supporting young adults going through the grief of COVID, the COVID Grief Network has an opportunity to apply to be a volunteer.
Thankfully, my dad returned home after his second hospitalization and after over six months he is doing well. I know that not everyone who has fought this battle came out the other side and it’s so important that we hold each other up. We may have no idea what someone is going through, especially during the times we are in.
May we remember that We are in this together, and although you may be by yourself, you are never alone.