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Sharing the Weight of Pandemic Exhaustion 

click to enlarge ELISA JÄRNEFELT
  • Elisa Järnefelt

The first weeks of the pandemic reminded me of the first weeks with our daughter. She was born a bit early, and we had lots of trouble figuring out breastfeeding. Consequently, I ended up staying at home for several weeks. The time with a newborn was isolating and difficult, but eventually I walked out of the house to greet the world with my baby.

So, when the isolation began in March 2020, it felt in some ways familiar. Trying to be positive, I told myself that I was mentally prepared.

Then the weeks multiplied, and I slowly came to terms with the fact that this was not like anything I'd experienced before. But every day, I still kept trying to come up with optimistic angles. I understood that, in many ways, my family had it easier than many other families. To say that we were having a hard time felt somehow inconsiderate in the grand scheme of things. As the weeks have turned into months, there have been days when the optimism has turned into exhaustion.

A year into our isolation, I have learned that I do not always have to find something encouraging about this experience. On days when I feel worn out, I have learned to rely on the person who is next to me — my husband. One day it might be him telling me something encouraging, and I just listen. The next day, I might be the one who has more energy to bring in the light. 

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