What comes to mind when you think of COVID?
This is not a trick question but instead something I had to ask myself the other day as I came to an unfortunate realization. Most of the time when I hear about COVID, my thoughts turn to me, me, me.
What does this spike mean for me? Will the kids be exposed and have to quarantine? How will we work?
A little over a month ago, my Grandma contracted COVID-19. Though in her early 80s, she is active and healthy, babysitting great-grandchildren and serving her community. She is doing better now but it was not an easy few weeks. She was isolated and even ended up being hospitalized with shortness of breath and chest pain.
In conversations with my Grandma, I began to more deeply understand some of the specific challenges faced by those who have, or have had, COVID.
For many, there is almost a sense of guilt at having contracted the virus, followed up by the fearful question: Who may I have accidentally exposed?
And then there is the isolation. After testing positive, there is a lengthy time of quarantine. You fight the illness alongside the loneliness (a very difficult combination).
Finally, there are the symptoms. For many, it’s much worse than a cold. I’ve heard the following symptoms named by family and friends: nausea, headaches, fever, insomnia, burning sore throat, chest pain, shortness of breath, and loss of taste and smell. And knowing it’s COVID often makes the symptoms much more scary and unknown.
Better understanding the struggles of those who have COVID has helped me realize the huge opportunity we have to love our neighbor. Here are four ways that we as Christians can care for our neighbor who has COVID.
James 5:16 reminds us that prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Let's lift up those who are fighting COVID to the one who is mighty to save. As the person comes to mind, pray for them right then and there.
2. Check-in Regularly
Though not commonly listed as a COVID-symptom, loneliness is a very real challenge. A phone call or text is a lifeline to those fighting the virus. Try to check-in every few days. It will likely mean much more than you know.
3. Show Empathy
Even if you've never had COVID, you've likely experienced some of the symptoms and can relate to the suffering. Take time to listen to your friend's specific symptoms. Acknowledge the difficulties. Offer encouragement. Imagine yourself fighting the virus and think about the parts that would be hard for you.
4. Meet Needs (if able)
As COVID is highly contagious, it can be hard for the person fighting the virus to grab groceries or pick up much-needed meds. Might you be able to drop something at their door? Think creatively if you are geographically distanced. Could you use a meal service? Contact another friend who lives closer to run an errand on your behalf? People are usually more open to accepting help if you make a tangible offer, i.e. "I'm running to the store, when can I drop a few groceries at your door?"
Have you been through COVID? Or are you close to someone who has had the virus? What would you add?