What’s changed, what hasn’t – starting to think about caring for people.

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The other day Bill Rice, a digital marketing guy I know, sent a series of tweets that talk about how to respond in these moments of change and crisis and uncertainty. 

He wrote:

  1. Write down what has actually changed. I’m always amazed how little things have to change to cause anxiety and overreaction.
  2. Write down what hasn’t changed. This is a great way to ground yourself as you write your response plan.
  3. Build a plan that first deals only with moving forward against the current reality.
  4. Don’t be overly optimistic, but consider the likely new normal. Start watching and positioning for new opportunities.  
  5. Know that it will be better, but don’t give it a deadline. Survive and let it come to you. 
    (Here’s his full post on “Thinking in Uncertain Times.“)

It’s a great framework for thinking about offering pastoral care in times of change, like this.

1. So, for example, as we think about helping people grieve in a time of isolation, what has actually changed about grief and the ways we help? 

What has changed is that we can’t touch. We can’t be in the same geographic space. We can’t hand people tissues. We can’t sit silently with them in the same room. We can’t hug. We can’t make eye contact. All the typical life patterns that might help them has changed, too. People can’t put themselves in spaces that could offer comfort. 

2. What hasn’t changed? 

People are still facing loss. People still need tissues. People still need to be seen. Walking still helps with getting stuck in brain loops. Knowing that someone sees you can help. Having someone be quiet with you helps. Mail still is delivered. Meals can still be delivered. Videoconferencing still exists.

3. What’s your plan given the current reality? 

We could simply deliver a box of tissues to the house of someone who is grieving. We could use Zoom and simply sit quietly with someone because when they see you, you can be quiet together. We can walk together with someone as we keep our distance and the exercise can help the body.  


This isn’t a comprehensive list. It is a way to start our thinking. I’ll be doing more work with this as we keep moving. As you have insights, please add here or email to drjon@socialmediachaplain.com

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