Our Stories: Adaptation

Contributed Community

By Sarah Burbach

There have been three times in my life when I have caught myself saying over and over, “This really can’t be happening to me.” And now, just like the other three times, it really is. So once, again, I have had to adapt, in a lot of different ways.  And it’s been our community that has made my adjustment not only bearable, but better.

I have seen our community adapt spiritually. Our churches continue to be our guide to encourage us to do what is right for others. The virtual worship services, videoed Bible Studies, Facebook choirs, Emailed Sunday School lessons, free Internet hotspots in the church parking lot for our students, and daily lunches for the needy and shut-ins keep us in touch as we continue to help and love each other.  

I have seen our community adapt intellectually. Our school system has really come through. Students are still learning because our teachers are providing distant instruction and/or packets of school work. Parents are once again showing that they are teachers, too – all the time. 

While it may not feel so great right now (you have my total admiration, parent-teachers), the bonding and support that you are giving your children right now is priceless and will stick with them and carry over forever. 

We have also seen and felt the strong relationships our teachers have with each of their students. This year’s group of students will come out of this situation stronger and more resilient than ever.

I have seen our community adapt emotionally. Last week, I read a helpful article by Scott Berinato from the Harvard Business Review titled “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief.” It quoted David Kessler, the “world’s foremost expert on grief” who co-wrote about the five stages of grief with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross as it related to dying. He related these stages to what we are going through now. He writes that we’re feeling more than one kind of grief, that we are also feeling “anticipatory grief” – the feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain and imagining the worse. We feel a loss of safety because we aren’t sure what is going to happen next. He advises us to find balance in the things we are thinking right now. Don’t just dwell on the doom.  Find control in accepting what has happened and let go of what you can’t control. What is in our control is washing our hands and staying sheltered. He states that accepting what has happened is “where the power lies.” Our community is working together to keep all of us “in control” of the important steps we must take to keep ourselves, and each other healthy.

I have seen our community adapt supportingly. As always, our “community helpers” come through for us over and over again. These people, often in the shadows, are working tirelessly and effectively to keep us safe and fed and healthy. They represent Morgan County at her best. Our School Nutrition Program continues to provide wholesome meals for our students. Our hospital is beginning its fourth week under the Emergency Operations Plan. 

Strong, knowledgeable leadership and dedicated staff are spending very long hours every day communicating with many state and federal agencies as they prepare for what they will be needed to do. They are ready, and they will do it well. 

I have seen our community adapt entertainingly. We drive by our local restaurants to pick up our meals, our gardens and lawns have never looked better. We work out (you should see my home gym – free weights, bow flex machine, spinning bike, bands and tubes, mats and a pull-up bar) and walk and walk. Our Boys & Girls Club had a virtual QuaranTEEN dance with a DJ and the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center is hosting an Internet Tea Party. We facetime friends and family and share our homemade goodies with others by leaving them on doorsteps. Our library even offers hundreds of books to read and listen to that can be downloaded for free.  

Thank you to my community. This really is happening to all of us, and together, we are all trying so hard.

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