In this past year of social distancing, the huggers have had withdrawals of not being able to be themselves. They want to reach out and hug but are reminded not to hug by the face mask the other wears and of their own. No hugs! This causes a void in their daily life whether it be in social settings as in church or just running into a friend or family member.
I know of one lady that is in a public business, a funeral home, and this is her nature. In her personality, which is very caring in this role of a funeral director, the hugs given to those in mourning are an added benefit. After all the funeral plans and committal service, these people know that the hug will come from her in the days ahead. Her hugs felt safe and precious in a time of the darkest hours with a death in a family of our area. If you mention her name, they automatically smile and remember the hugs given and so desperately needed.
I have no doubt this caused a mild depression in her of not offering that hug to those needing one. Back in 1996 when my mother died, she became a rock for me, as I was lost in my grief. I have had family members pass away and friends but this was my mother. My role as a daughter had changed, I am now a caretaker of my father more so, after the funeral and financial ends were finalized. For a long while, I did not know how to process this. I was grieving but had to be strong for my dad, my children. Emotions were always hidden in our family growing up, you don’t cry, for whatever reason. Perhaps I was made to feel that way since I was seven years later and the older ones called me a cry baby. I learned early on to keep my emotions to myself, as a young child. So, I somewhat died along with her but became a robot of day to day living. Maybe they were all robots. During this time, my marriage was dying but even before, to cry on his shoulder or to be held, was also out of the question. Alone in my grief.
Two years later when my father died at home with my sister and I by his side, I was more prepared but still, it is like a rug was pulled out from me. Now I felt like an orphan. Another new role to take upon myself, as I dealt with the estate and a few greedy family members. That’s a whole other writing in itself. The morning my dad passed, I called the funeral home and it was not long until she was with me in my living room, knowing she filled a role in my life that kept me steady on a thin, raveling rope. Those hugs she offered and I accepted was a glue that I needed. Besides my boys, there were no hugs.
So that is her, a hugger of many and filled in a mother role that I needed. She allowed me to cry, she hugged me tight and stayed in touch with me, she knew of my marriage and family issues. Again, she was my rock, when I needed a boulder.
Many years have passed now and a lot has happened since. I was able to not need her as much in this role, as I have grown and adapted to my loss as in time we do, but she will always be special to me. We always have those hugs. Still and many times, gifts to and from one another are related to hugs, even now, texts will relate to hugs. I needed those hugs and I knew her two arms would tightly wrap around me, keeping me together.
So here we are almost a year since this pandemic started and the social distancing, limits all around and it is like a don’t touch sign on each person. It is sad. I decided to reach out to her a few weeks ago as I/we still do for each other. I know she is there but I don’t rely on her as much. Unselfishly, which was not always easy, others need her, too. In my text, I asked her how she was doing and how she was handling this pandemic and the rules. Again, everyone knows she hugs, that is just her. When she responded, she was happy to be asked and felt she could elaborate but had to get back with me. It was several days later and I did not think anything about it, as life happens.
Finally, a text but a different tone in her writing to me, as I started to read, which was unusual from her. I continued to read and was apologizing to me because she thought this would be easy to write about but found it was not. This lady is and has been a strong pillar in our community with the funeral home business but this stirred emotions in her.
“Believe it or not, I have been thinking of you a lot after receiving the above request. SORRY to be so long in responding.
When I read your message, I really thought I’d get an answer back to you before the end of the day. As you already know, that wasn’t what happened.
You were requesting me to write you my thoughts, on how things have been going, and how I felt about not being able to socialize, or HUG during this crazy unfamiliar time we’re all living right now.
I didn’t think at first it would be so difficult to write, but I’ve been in solitary (like a lot of other people) for months now, NO hugging, touching, having anyone visit (I understand they are all trying to protect me, but I’m sorry to tell you at this time, I can’t help you.
I’ve also lost so many friends, and several family members since last March, it makes me sad to even think about it. Please forgive me. Maybe at a later time I’ll be able to help you, but right now I don’t want to talk about my feelings. I do Love you and hope and pray you’ll understand. ❤❤❤🙏🙏🙏”
I did understand. Honestly, I bet a majority of people, even you, feel the same. Our lives have been disrupted, a ‘Do Not Cross’ sign on our forehead of no touching, no hugging, no socializing basically. We are pulled from those that give us hope and laughter as a tight hug brings laughter and tears fill our eyes with joy. Now tears of sadness if we give much thought of those times together.
I have had to wonder how I would respond if I would run into her. Automatic hug or replaced with fear to hug, as we both struggle with none. I have wondered about this happening with another, my former counselor if we would run into one another. Upon leaving her practice, she said we could hug if we saw one another and I do expect it. I do know that had it not been for her and I to discuss why hugs meant so much to me and why I yearned for hugs from others, in those years together as counselor/client, among other things we discussed, I don’t doubt I would be experiencing severe depression during this pandemic. If and when I would run into her, how would the emotional side of me react, I wonder. Would it bring further grief, as I miss her? There are some people in my life and I am sure in yours that you want and expect those hugs. I do. I want. We all need them. I have been so blessed with many in my life, just like the two I mentioned.
In this pandemic, there were a few visits with my son of no hugs. My heart was broken as I went back to my room and cried. The grieving of what we have lost in just the touch or a hug, being with others, my own child(ren). The seclusion can do a number on our mental health. Even though, we are resilient.
We are made and we yearn for touch and love. This pandemic puts a wall and the masks further isolate each of us from seeing the smile of those we care for in our lives or just in passing others in day to day life. The joy has diminished from faces and in life. Hopefully, not fully from their hearts. On the surface, we are adapting but we long for those hugs and the closeness in visiting.
Yes, we will get through this season of seclusion but knowing, too we have lost friends or family members with this evil virus. Perhaps this is a wake up call to know and be reminded we are not promised tomorrow, or our next breath. Express your love and appreciation for those we come in contact however done, either in person, phone or text, as it might be the last time.
“Touch is a legitimate physical and emotional need. It’s part of the human experience, and losing that and not knowing when you will get it back is hard.”