Coronavirus divides generations

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Over the past six months, the Bellarmine community has been required to learn the meaning of the word empathy.

Although students might feel healthy and carefree, it has been critical for everyone to look out for citizens in our society who may be older or have pre-existing health conditions. The consequences of COVID-19 on people’s lives are vastly different depending on their age and health status.

For many Bellarmine students, this summer had them wrestling with the idea that they must value the health of others over their own desires.

Bellarmine senior Jewell Lower claims that COVID-19, “has impacted my grandparents’ lives very little.” Her 79-year-old grandparents live on a farm in Ellensburg and mostly keep to themselves. Besides masking up when they go in public, they are living their lives quite normally. Lower’s immediate family, however, has had some changes to their lifestyle.

Before seeing her grandparents on Aug. 21, Lower and her whole house quarantined for two weeks to ensure that they were virus free. Surprisingly enough this was not at the request of her grandparents but rather at the request of her mother who wanted to keep her parents safe.

Within her own household Lower explained that, “My two older sisters cannot physically go to college at WSU and my dad has been stuck working from home since March.” Overall, Lower and her family are grateful for their health and feel fortunate that with the proper precautions they are still able to see their beloved family members.

Another student, Barbara Blinn (’23) reflects on the changes in her relationship with her grandparents because of this virus . “Since my grandparents live on Orcas Island, the other residents don’t want visitors coming bringing germs.” This is just one example of how the virus can create a divide between families.

However, Blinn also looks on the bright side, remarking, “I’ve gotten a chance to get to know my family even more” because they have no choice but to stay home together.

These last six months have a pattern of bringing immediate family closer but often distancing people from those who are more susceptible to the virus such as grandparents. It is a time of making hard decisions and striving to choose empathy and compassion over personal desires.

During these upcoming months, the keys to wellness may be gratitude and finding new ways to communicate with family and friends in your life. For people of all ages, these can be worrisome times and it is crucial that everyone makes it known that they care in some tangible way.