I don’t know about you, but this COVID stuff is getting me down. Nearly everything about our usual life has changed. I’m grieving the loss of normalcy. When considering Rotary specifically, I’m mourning the loss of weekly club meetings, hands-on projects, DisCon20 and year-end festivities. BUMMER!

When I was 21, serving as camp cook at a summer residential camp in the northern Michigan woods, I remember reading Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ landmark book On Death and Dying. Reading about dying at 21 may have been unusual, especially in this sanitized society where death is kept separated from daily life. But I had recently lost some elderly relatives and was getting ready to enter clinical practice, where I was certain to have to deal with death. I was curious. Kübler-Ross suggested that there were five phases of grief: denial (avoidance, confusion, elation, shock, fear), anger (frustration, irritation, anxiety), depression (overwhelmed, helpless, hostility, flight), bargaining (struggling to find meaning, reaching out to others, telling one’s story) and acceptance (exploring options, new plan in place, moving on).

Dr. Kübler-Ross’ work reminds me that my feelings of sadness and mourning are to be expected in these times of significant disruption. So, I’m working on acknowledging my feelings, staying present in the moment, and giving myself a break. Some days are easier than others!

Based on my conversations by phone and email with Rotarians, I believe we have members in all stages of this grieving process. As Rotarians, what can we do?

  • Be gentle with ourselves and others when we are in a difficult phase of grief. Perhaps club members are in denial or angry or depressed. Reach out and listen.
  • Be informed. Read reliable sources of information about COVID-19 such as the health department and CDC websites. Follow RI directives to comply with local governmental guidance on mitigating the impact of COVID-19.
  • Be curious. Explore how we can ‘do’ Rotary now, perhaps even more effectively than before COVID-19. How can virtual meetings save time and money while enhancing the quality of speakers, and the effectiveness of service projects, and increasing the attractiveness of Rotary to new members?
  • Be generous. During this time, when people need more support than ever before, share the gift and the magic of Rotary! Create an intentional membership strategy and invite your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues to learn about Rotary and join your club.

While I am sometimes bummed, I am also heartened by the Rotary spirit. I am confident that we will emerge from this time, stronger than ever! After all, #Rotary Connects the World and #Rotary Opens Opportunities!

Let’s demonstrate how Rotarians lead effectively through periods of adversity.

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