Family is incredibly important and for those of us who are lucky enough to have our relatives close to us, we know the beautiful memories that are made. However, with more and more families living away from other family and with the spread of coronavirus increasing the number of people isolated away from family and friends, it seems like the perfect time to get imaginative. Let’s all work together to keep connected and to make sure no one feels alone. As author J K Rowling once said, “Family is a life jacket in the story sea of life”. Let’s not leave anyone without support in these uncertain times.
We hold on our phones thousands of pictures that tell a story, a story that many of our loved ones would want to hear about and see. Let’s remember the joy that our own happiness can bring to others. One way to keep connected with our loved ones from afar is to send them photos with a story. Either print a photo from your phone at home or send an email with the photo attached. Write a small description of why you wanted to share this story with your loved one.
Research has shown that isolation and loneliness can be detrimental to the well-being of the elderly1. Therefore, we must find alternative way to keep in touch. If you miss having a chat and catching up face to face, then why not give video calling a try? There are multiple platforms through which you can call your loved ones these days; Facetime, Skype or Facebook Videocall are just a few. This is a great idea for those of us with older relatives who are slightly more tech savvy or already use Facebook as a way to connect with old friends. If videocall is a bit too complicated, then don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and just start chatting! Find an article here by the BBC that summarises the different ways to connect via video: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51968122
- The Classics – Letters
Now that we have discussed the technological way to keep in touch, let’s have a look at going back to basics. The art of letter writing has somewhat died out, but there is no reason why we cannot revive it. Send a handwritten letter to your loved one with an update of what you have been up to and maybe a short story about a memory you have, then ask them to send one back. If your loved one is in full isolation, then think about contacting a neighbour who could pick up the letter from their doorstep to post for them (ensuring that the social-distancing protocols are met). Imagine how lovely it will be to have written record of some of your loved ones most prominent memories. As author Alex Hayley once said, “In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, bridge to our future”.
- Share a skill
If you are thinking about how to keep your children bonding with their grandparents during this time, then how about encouraging them to take up a mutual hobby. Did you parents use to draw, write stories or knit? Why not speak to them about restarting this hobby and get your kids to do the same. Then, using the communication methods above they can talk to their grandchildren about their new skill and what they have made. With the kids off school, this could be a great way to keep them busy and maintain their bond with their family.
- Virtual Book Club
Many of us have books that we have been wanting to read, but only ever find time when on our holidays. With travel restrictions meaning that we are spending more time at home, why not pick up that novel and get reading. If you know a family member who also loves reading, then why not decide on a book together, get reading and catch up once a week to discuss it. Virtual book clubs either by phone or videocall could be a great way to keep connected and to develop common interests.
In summary, we can all play our part in keeping our families and communities connected from afar. Whether you have 5 minutes or an hour to spare, use one of the ideas above to make someone’s day and to show them that they are not alone. It is more important now than ever that we reach out, build bridges and show those we love that we are there to support them.
Photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/@leah-kelley-50725
Refs: Ellwardt L, Aartsen M, Deeg D, Steverink N Soc Sci Med. 2013 Dec; 98():116-24.
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