Eyes are the window of the soul, but smiles can melt hearts…

Dorthe Flauer image headshot

Our consultant at Meaningful Care Matters, Dorthe Flauer, shares some thoughts over the past few weeks of COVID-19 whilst in lockdown, working from home. There is no doubt that many of us have found the last few weeks, months even, to be somewhat strange to say the least. And having this insight into how another person feels can be really powerful in helping us understand our own thoughts. So, thank you, Dorthe, for sharing with us and giving us a little glance into your soul…

I am writing this in early June. During the past 12 weeks of Covid-19, I’ve been working from home, isolating from friends and loved ones and staying home as much as possible.  This, I realize now, has taken a huge toll on me.  I feel so disconnected.  Even though I chat or have zoom meetings with my boss or other colleagues during the days I am working, there is just something missing.  

For weeks now, I’ve only been away from home for essential groceries and just lately at the greenhouse for bedding plants.  What has struck me the most, is that being a very social person, when I’m out, I can’t interact with people now.  Wearing a mask, gloves and social or physical distancing is manageable, but what I have such a hard time with is, I can’t smile at people and I can’t receive their smiles back. I do smile under my mask, but do others sense that? 

I feel detached. This is very disheartening as I love talking to everyone I encounter during the day. That’s who I am. For me, especially, I do not walk by someone, whether it is a colleague, a visitor, or a resident of the Supportive Living sites I work at, without saying hello. I ask them how their day is going…and I always smile, and that makes me feel connected and happy. I feel being social, being engaged and being connected to others, is what fuels my feelings of well-being and my sense of purpose.

So, thinking about the people living at all the Supportive Living sites, with the continuous masking of staff, it must be torture for them to not see a smile as they are in forced isolation from this pandemic.  Even though our eyes speak volumes, they cannot see the smiles we are giving them.  

I believe that these past three months have impacted seniors both in the community and in continuing care facilities in ways that we have not imagined. We are learning about the deep isolation and heartbreaking loneliness of those we care for who are the most vulnerable during this pandemic.

Front-line staff share that sometimes those they care for express to them that the isolation of not being able to see family, of being cut-off from those they love and care about is worse than the thought of dying.  Many have said that there is no point in living this way.  

So, think about the pressure on the dedicated front-line staff who come to them with masks, gowns and gloves, offering a sterile, yet caring interaction. What a challenging time for care workers who come into this field of work because they care about humanity and want to make a difference.  Whether staff or resident, this breaks our spirit and contributes even more to the disconnection we feel.

Smiles tell us that we are valued, we are important to others and most of all, that we do matter.

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