New series looks at life 'Beyond COVID'

Series: Beyond COVID | Story 2

Trying to anticipate the next turn the COVID-19 pandemic will take is exhausting.

We all remember how we were going to stay home for two weeks in March of 2020 to “flatten the curve,” right? Of course, the curve didn’t flatten and those two weeks have extended into two years.

The pandemic looks different now than it did in the early days. The variants currently in circulation are significantly weaker, and we’ve learned a lot about how the virus is or is not transmitted.

But we still find ourselves on a bit of a roller coaster with infection rates. They fall off and we begin to believe the pandemic has come to an end, only to watch them rise again. We’re in the midst of one of those cycles now.

That leaves us, as one health care professional so aptly put it, living with “perpetual uncertainty.” And that can take a toll.

So we are launching a new series called “Beyond COVID” that will share stories of how people have begun to or continue to move forward. The first installment, which appears on Page 5 of this issue, is about a group of neighbors who saw their weekly gatherings evolve from a light-hearted happy hour to an opportunity to share the challenges they and their families were facing. (They had plenty of fun along the way, too.)

Next week we plan to convey information about the importance of connecting with others in a column in our Pulse section. In the April 28 issue, readers can learn more in “Ask an Expert” about the CRISIS text line, which offers support to people who are struggling. We plan to continue to run an article, column and expert each month as part of the series.

We recognize everyone is at a different place on this journey. Some have moved through the past two years relatively unscathed. Others have experienced tremendous loss — of loved ones, of careers, of opportunities, of life as they knew it.

In addition to sharing stories, one of our goals is to provide resources to readers who would like to learn more or obtain some help. We’ve assembled a group of people to aid in that effort. At the top of the list is Greg DiDomenico, president and CEO of Community Memorial Foundation. We’ve worked together in the past on our mental health coverage and our Aging Well series.

Other task force members are Adam Maycock, president and CEO, AdventHealth Hinsdale and La Grange; Lyn Burgess, development specialist, Advent Health; Jeannie Cella, life coach; Alisa Messana, licensed clinical social worker and mental health consultant; Chris Schneider, director of membership and business development at HR Source; and Lars Stromberg, lead pastor of Hinsdale Covenant Church.

It might be quite a while before the pandemic has truly become a thing of the past. We hope this series supports people in their work to continue recovering and reconnecting as we look toward that time with optimism.