When the coronavirus pandemic hit and stay-at-home orders were issued, isolation and loneliness set in. We faced the difficult challenge of staying connected with our loved ones while traveling and social gatherings were limited.
Luckily, creativity struck, and we started to realize the true power of words in a pandemic.
Let’s look at some of the most inspiring ways people have used language to spread love and build community during this time.
As hospitals and nursing homes closed to visitors, committed partners found new ways to express their feelings to loved ones.
One man in South Carolina created a large sign that read “I’m here and I love you” outside his wife’s hospital room window. Another man in Connecticut held a sign to his wife’s nursing home window that said “I’ve loved you 67 years and still do. Happy Anniversary.”
Many people also created signs to bring encouragement to their neighbors. Thank you notes were taped to mailboxes and windows to show support for essential workers and other community members.
When Italy locked down in early March, locals began singing from their balconies. These sing-alongs became a nightly tradition that helped neighbors feel connected while they were physically isolated.
Once stay-at-home orders started in the US, many communities followed Italy’s lead. Neighborhoods in Chicago, Dallas, New York and many other American cities held windowsill singalongs to keep spirits high.
By singing, neighbors could recreate the sense of connectedness that is lost when in-person events are canceled and gathering spaces are closed.
In the age of social media, letters and postcards can be seen as outdated and slow by comparison.
However, this pandemic shed light on just how meaningful handwritten letters can be. Letter writing can provide a creative outlet or it can be a way to work through emotions. Either way, when you receive a handwritten letter, you know that the writer put time and effort into the note.
During the past few months, more people have used letters as a way to reach out to friends and family members. Others have started writing to express their opinions to elected officials. With more time at home, letter writing has become an escape instead of a chore.
The pandemic brought parties and in-person gatherings to a halt. But quickly, we learned that virtual gatherings were a great alternative option.
While the virtual happy hours, game nights and even weddings might not have been what we imagined, they were still a way to stay connected to loved ones. Plus, virtual gathers brought people together from different parts of the world that might not otherwise have attended the in-person event.
These virtual gatherings showed that just talking with a family member or friend can help break up the feeling of loneliness brought about by the quarantine.
In many ways, recent months have been overwhelming, stressful, and isolating. But we’ve also learned how powerful our words can be. Whether through song, signs, letters, or other creative ways of communicating at a distance, many people have rediscovered how language can be used to uplift and provide hope.
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Stephanie Brown is a New York City-based travel blogger and freelance content creator.
You can find her at The Adventuring Millennial.