Remembering The Meaning of Life After Covid-19•
Posted on April 30 2020
My inbox is filled with messages of “Hope to see you soon” from hotels and airline services to local restaurants, salons and gyms I attended in the past. All of them sign off with the two words “Stay Safe”; it now seems natural to incorporate this sign off in my own emails too. I feel the love, but it’s also unnerving to have all these places hoping to see me again. The world is changing and it's made us all uncomfortable. We all realize the value of freedom and how important we all are to each other’s survival and wellbeing. The question remains will we remember how precious life is once all of this is over?
The answer to the question is some will, and some won't. If this concerns you, and it should, those people who will continue to live more meaningful lives and come out of this pandemic's shackles remembering this time, are those that will learn to cultivate this fear and sadness and use it to make a better world then the one that we had pre COVID-19. After all, some (including myself) would even argue that this virus was mother nature's way of making humanity take a hard pause to reevaluate the importance of our earth.
Take for example the countless companies who are donating masks, or the groups of students designing them with their 3D printers. Donors of medical supplies and the thousands of meals that local restaurants are delivering to our essential workers. Landlords who helped with rent payments, neighbourly check-ins on elderly neighbours. We can't forget the pictures of rainbows that adorn the windows of homes - giving thanks to our healthcare professionals and essential workers and reminding us that “We Will Be Ok”. Our Foundation loved this idea so much - of course anything that involves rainbows is an innate calling to us - that we also asked people to continue to global movement and share their own rainbows of hope. All of these acts, big and small bring hope to our lives, and is the unshakable reminder that we are in this together and we need each other to bring change in these uncertain times and after Covid-19 as well.
But what drives people to find the light when all there is on the news is fear, death and crushing statistics that we haven't seen since the Great Depression? The answer is simple, it's the kind of human that acts on what they want to see in this world. They worry just like everyone else but they are driven to make a change. These people, the “Tragic Optimists”, as brilliantly termed by Emily Esfahani Smith in her recent April 7 Opinion Letter of the NY Times, seek light and share it with others. Smith continues to cite a study with a group of individuals who lived through the atrocities of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The study concluded that while all the people in the group were directly impacted by 9-11, those that pursued meaningful acts of kindness lead healthier lives and felt significantly less stress and anxiety than those that didn’t. They didn’t forget the pain, they just channeled it into doing good for others.
When Jordana was nearing her end of time on earth I was preparing her memorial cards. This may appear callous to some, but we knew where we were at and while I barely left her hospital room, I wanted everything for her Celebration of Life to be perfect like her; to be as beautiful and heartfelt as everything she was and still is today. As her mother, this was only going to be done by me and I had a small team of precious friends who helped execute it beautifully. Her mass still remains one of the most gut-wrenchingly, beautiful memories I have. I needed to add a prayer to her card, nothing typical, because there was nothing typical about her. I whispered the question to Luciano and he replied that he had already picked two. At first I was shocked he thought about this, but then I thought of course he did; Luciano is our pillar of faith. He read me a poem - it was beautiful. We agreed to print cards with a prayer and some were printed with this poem. I love both cards, but the one with this poem I look at everyday:
“When you are lonely and sick of heart, go to the friends we know and bury your sorrows in good deeds, miss me but let me go”. We couldn’t possibly grasp the significance of that line until we created Jordana’s Rainbows and all of you poured so much love and support that it grew into this beautiful movement that is Jordana’s legacy. It is our portal to healing; “burying our sorrows in doing good deeds”. As a result, it has given us, me personally, the courage to keep going. I hope it has helped to heal all of us collectively, especially her brothers and friends who are still so young, as spreading her light elevated the stigma that comes with death.
None of us can avoid pain and suffering but the person who seeks to fulfill their life with ways that help others will be the ones that will remain thankful and come out of this pandemic living a more meaningful life and impacting our world for the better.
Use your pain to bring light to something or someone that is important to you, a rescue mission, volunteering from your children’s school to perhaps feeding the homeless. Changing things at home, rethinking our waste, what we consume, what brands we support. Try something that does good and share it. Acknowledge the fear and channel it into love.
Smith ends her article with this Buddhist saying "10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows - meaning as much as we might wish none of us can avoid suffering, that is why it is important to learn to suffer well”. Well Ms. Smith, just as Jordana’s tiny hands are cupped around my heart, to ensure a better world after COVID-19 we must all seek ways of changing the life and lifting the hearts of others.
Emily Esfahani Smith
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