By Margaret Cogswell, CEO

Ever since March 2020, the word “normal” has been in our vocabulary much more often.  At first, we talked about a return to normal; then, we shifted to a hope that we could return to normal. But before long, we started to talk about a new normal.  We envisioned a time when the pandemic would not be the most prominent issue in our lives.

While we are still in a pandemic, many of us have shifted into a new normal. Our fear of the unknown, while not gone, has diminished (or we’ve become accustomed to it). Our actions have changed, including mask use and social activities. We never returned to the old normal, but we have found a way to live in a world that is living in a pandemic.

There are many similarities of this pandemic experience with the experience of grief after the death of a loved one. When we have lost someone that has been a part of our lives, regardless if that loss was sudden or after an extended illness, we can never go back to the old normal. There is a time before the loss and a time afterward. We do many things we did before – go back to our jobs, have family gatherings, spend time in the evening – but all of them are different.

The same things that may have helped us through a pandemic can help us through grief – talking with others, exercise and eating healthy foods.

One of the most important things, I think, is patience, patience with others and patience with ourselves. And sometimes that’s harder to do than anything else.

So, here is hoping you give yourself some grace and patience as you create your new normal.

Hospice of the Panhandle is a not-for-profit organization that provides professional medical care and volunteer support to individuals in the Eastern Panhandle who have serious illnesses. Hospice care surrounds the patient and their family with personalized support to help them live on their terms, wherever they call home. This circle of support includes doctors, nurses, personal care aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers who work alongside the patient and their family to address all of the patient’s needs and to empower their family to care for them at home. Hospice care can also provide an extra layer of support to residents of nursing and assisted living facilities who are seriously ill or provide 24-hour care in the Hospice of the Panhandle inpatient facility when hospital-like care is needed for pain and symptom management.

Margaret Cogswell is the CEO at Hospice of the Panhandle where she has been shaping hospice care in the Eastern Panhandle for more than 30 years.