Covid Silver Linings: Time with People

Ellen Patnaude, Patnaude Coaching

This month, rather than the traditional gratitude posts, we’re thinking specifically about the Covid-19 pandemic. While there are seemingly unending negatives to this pandemic, there are also silver linings to be found if you look for them.

One of my silver linings has been the time I’ve gotten to spend with various people. We’ve got three teenagers. They can be a tough demographic to really connect with when you’re on the go all the time. There’s a lot of benefit to just watching, listening and observing. Asking some questions in a non-threatening way has also proven useful. The people in my immediate family have often suffered my neglect when I was traveling so much. Being home has allowed me to reconnect with each of them individually. I’ve paid closer attention to each of the three kids. I’ve been able to enjoy more regular date nights with my amazing wife.

I live with a lot of introverts. All this extra time spent listening, watching and observing, with the occasional well-timed question, has helped me learn a lot about each of them. Even my extrovert revealed some pretty important stuff when I paid closer attention. This has resulted in several silver linings—getting to know each of them better as people. Being able to help each of them get something they desperately needed but couldn’t ask for. Being present to step in and help make very difficult decisions about what’s best for everyone when someone couldn’t speak up for themselves.

Had I been traveling all this time, I might have missed some critical warning signs of trouble coming. I might have dismissed small things as insignificant out of fear of overreacting because I wasn’t here enough. I would have been less confident in taking the actions I did to help each of my family members be okay. I shudder to think of what some of the worst consequences would have looked like.

Now hear me here—I ain’t no hero and I didn’t save the day. Instead, it is an appreciation for one of the silver linings this time has given me. I don’t pay attention as closely as I should sometimes. Being here allowed me (forced me?) to do just that. And the results have been life-changing for several of us.

I’ve also appreciated the popularizing of virtual wine dates with friends. Some of my closest friends live further away than I’m able to get to on a regular basis. I’m not sure why none of us thought to get together virtually before now, but we have since Covid started. Being able to lean on friends even when we can’t be in person has been one of the major reasons I’m still standing upright some days.

A bittersweet silver lining related to time with people has been how this pandemic clarified who really wanted to be in our circle supporting us, and who didn’t. Lines were drawn, whether we wanted them to be or not, and I’d rather know than not where I really stand with someone any day of the week. Our circle has shrunk a little. And that’s okay. I count it as a silver lining even though it’s caused some sadness.

We suffered the loss of a family member from Covid-19 this week. It is one of the many, many difficulties of this pandemic. Not being able to be present at the end of her life. Not being able to (responsibly) gather as a large family to mourn her loss.

But we can’t stay there. Focus on the people in your life and find a silver lining or two of your own this week. Celebrate them. Set up a time to virtually meet up. Send a note through the good old-fashioned mail. Any way you want to do it, taking a moment to make meaningful connections is time well-spent.


Ellen Patnaude

Ellen Patnaude

Ellen E. Patnaude has been coaching, training, and developing people to achieve higher levels of success in a professional capacity since 1997.

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