The World is Still Waiting for Easter: Memory Care in a Pandemic

Easter may have come and gone, but the meaning of Easter – the resurrection of death, of old ideas, of harmful habits, of new life – well, it feels like we’re still waiting. The world is in a holding pattern. Businesses have stopped, schools have closed, grocery stores are filled with people wearing masks and gloves, and everyone is staying at home, hoping for a miracle and a vaccine. Some who live alone are lonely and some who live with many children are praying for reprieve. Good Friday remembers death and darkness. Saturday is the day of waiting, the day when it seems like no one is coming and all the good is gone and the world is quiet and scared. And Sunday brings new life, a chance to start over, a rising up from the ashes. Most of us are somewhere between Friday and Saturday right now. We are waiting for our Sunday. 

Those who live in assisted living homes are forced to see people from their windows or over the computer. Protecting the most vulnerable means separation and, often, loneliness. Memory care might look relatively similar in times like these, as our loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia might not grasp the full picture of what’s happening out there. But the caretakers are scared, their relatives aren’t visiting, and the man who comes to sing them to hasn’t been around in a while. These differences are noticed and felt somewhere in the body, like a missing lyric that we might not be able to put our finger on, but we know it’s gone. 

The body remembers trauma and fear, and it also remembers light and joy and music. Those with memory impairment and little children might not really know what’s happening, but they know something is wrong. They know the world isn’t right. They know that we haven’t yet arrived at our Sunday. 

So what do we do? We find ways to care for ourselves and those around us as best we can right now. We take walks, even if it’s just around our yards. We eat good foods that nourish our bodies, maybe with some chocolate thrown in. We take deep breaths and turn on music and dance. We sing or we yell or we cry or we watch movies that remind us of happiness. Those of us who are young and healthy can do grocery runs for those who can’t. We visit those who might be lonely, either virtually or from a safe physical distance. Above all, we are gentle with ourselves. This is a first for all of us. As we wait for Easter to arrive, we hold space for the waiting, for the unknown.