How to Connect When We Can't Connect

All our usual habits of relational and social contact are being disrupted with the separation and isolation of personal contact due to the COVID-19 virus. Now that many are not going to work, restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, religious services, weddings, funerals, sporting events, and any other activity that has 10 or more people, we are being challenged with new and unique ways to recreate or re-imagine ways to maintain bonds with family and friends. Some of us have been very fortunate to be with family during these difficult times. Watching my 18-year-old twin boys and my college student daughter stay connected with their friends through social media has become a model for staying connected when we can’t connect. They have inspired some of these ideas:

Zoom Meetings
– When we can't meet with people in real life, we can have “face to face” meetings through your computer or tablet.  Zoom and other providers offer free trial accounts, allowing you to set up virtual meetings with those you invite. Many of the colleges are using this format to continue online classes during the closures. I teach three classes using this format and the students stay engaged and interactive. This could be a great way to connect with family members all over the United States.

Facetime – Using this app is a wonderful way to care and comfort those in our phone contact list. Using Facetime, I’ve connected with my grandkids, family members, and those that need a friendly smile. I have also used this app to provide GriefCare for families who have experienced a death loss. Look at your phone device and learn the features so you can use this to connect. Seeing someone can be very comforting.

Texting – Texting has become a staple of communication over the years. Because it can be done quickly and easily, this is the preferred method of communication for many people trying to balance work and family. This is probably the most used way to communicate through our phone devices. If you are not tech-savvy, this would be a perfect time to learn. 

Social Media – Social media has become the place to network and maintain friendships around the world.  My kids had to educate me on some of the newer ones like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. These are different ways to stay connected depending on your preference.

Phone Apps – My kids taught me about the multitude of apps you can download to your phone or tablet. These apps will allow you to be more creative on your social media devices. Some of these are Tik Tok, What's App, Group me, Google Hangouts, Houseparty, and Marco Polo to name a few. 

Gaming Consoles
– It has been amazing to be in a household with kids who communicate and build friendships through these devices. They have live chats with others using PS4, Xbox, or other gaming systems. It allows for camaraderie and competition in a virtual world.

Neighborhood Websites– Our neighborhood has a website that residents can join and have community dialogue. This has been a wonderful tool to stay in touch with our neighborhood and to get creative with social connections without personal interaction.

Phone Dates – Setting up a phone date to continue with activities is another option to stay connected. For instance, my wife loves going for a walk in the park with a friend, but these days, she is walking alone and staying very far from other people. To replace this activity, she has set up phone dates with her friends so she can still talk and walk.
We can learn to stay connected without being connected thanks to technology and ingenuity. We need interaction for our mental health and wellbeing. Use this time to explore and act on new ways to communicate.

This blog was written by Jim Coyle, Cedar Memorial's GriefCare and Community Outreach Specialist.

Jim has devoted his life to guiding people toward a better place through service and education. In his work, Jim focuses on assisting with traumatic intervention, staff training and development, and community awareness.


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