A search of the word “comfort” will tell you that it comes from the Latin word comfortare, which means “strengthen greatly.” A dictionary definition will tell you it means to ease the mood of or restore a sense of physical and psychological well-being.
What does comfort mean to you?
Perhaps it is to hug, to hold, to sit next to each other and share a meal together… it’s what humans do, instinctively. It’s what we are accustomed to, like creatures of habit.
COVID-19 has forced to unlearn and let go of what’s been at the heart of our happiest moments… we can no longer hold onto the comfort of the familiar. What’s worse, is that we now have to explicitly teach our children that they should not hug their friends or family members, and sharing food or school lunches is a big no.
Initially, drive-by bridal and baby showers seemed like a novel idea amid the pandemic. But now, it’s drive-by funerals, every day. It’s heartbreaking.
We no longer grieve the way we used to. We watch funerals online, and the grief remains raw. There is no closure on the loss of loved ones – their lives cut cruelly short by COVID. We have been robbed. It feels like a mass assault on humanity.
We question how we got to this point. We question for how much longer we will have to endure this way of life. We question if we as individuals are doing enough. We question if our government is doing enough. Tough questions. No easy answers.
This uncertainty has made us look inward. There are philosophical sayings, quotes and scriptures of all faiths that have surfaced as a source of strength and yes, comfort. Many resonate with me. I absorb the words and I feel lighter.
I find comfort in old and new ways. Writing this helps me feel calm. I feel a similar calmness while reading books. I drink more cups of tea. I bake over the weekends – it’s therapeutic. I embrace technology – the regular WhatsApp conversations, voice and video calls – so that we can see family and friends, and smile, even if it’s momentarily. But I also choose to regularly cut myself off from technology and have social media breaks because more often than not, it’s too painful to bear.
My greatest comfort comes from chanting religious mantras. I chant when I feel overwhelmed. I chant when I’m busy in the kitchen or hanging clothes. I chant at random intervals during the day. Chanting soothes my soul. While I chant, I pray for the speedy recovery of those fighting COVID and other illnesses. Chanting is an affirmation – a reminder that as much as things seem like they are falling apart, we need to hold ourselves together.
Whatever brings you comfort in these challenging times, find that, and hold onto that. People will judge you for that too, but don’t allow them to get to you. There’s no set book on how to survive a pandemic… we are all writing our stories as we go along.