Keeping Close Though Apart in Challenging Times (& generation divide need not be a barrier)
‘It was really sad. I had known my friend for ten tears but now the friendship seems to have come to an end’ one of my clients told me when he returned for therapy following the lifting of restrictions after lockdown. He had found the whole experience isolating – ‘on my own, in my house alone with my Xbox’.
He drew comfort from that fact he had been able to keep in close contact with another friend in the States. This friend had contracted COVID-19. My client spoke of how this friend had kept him sane and was close to him emotionally (although physically apart) during which was a very traumatic time. (Fortunately, this friend recovered.)
I found this very relatable. Once lockdown was imposed, I found myself hanging onto a lifelong friend remotely - email. I did not regard myself as a needy individual. Yet here I was, spending at least an hour compiling a detailed message, ensuring it was pitch perfect, interesting, and topical. Having sent it, I then hung around with tremendous, disproportionate anticipation for a return email. I was not disappointed; my good friend replied in kind – I could feel the connection and mutual support. It was visceral. It helped get me through those early weeks of lockdown which so many of us experienced.
At the end of our session, I felt compelled to shake my client’s hand to acknowledge our shared experience, but social distancing precluded me from doing so. I simply let him know, by telling him. Yes, I had some understanding how he felt. The experience showed we can be close though apart and gain much strength from reaching out.
Incidentally, four decades separate my client and I; on this we were very much on the same page. Age – like distance - is not a barrier when it comes to sharing feelings, especially during challenging times.