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  • Stephanie Thrower

Coping with Emotional Distancing


It sort of feels obvious to say that social distancing causes feelings of isolation. Duh, right? But something that doesn’t seem so obvious is this weird feeling of disconnection when friends and family members don’t agree with you on social distancing.

One thing I’ve been hearing a lot this week is the feeling of disconnection, particularly with mothers, due to opposing perspectives and behaviors around social distancing. Of course, there is clearly a divide in our country, we see the opposing opinions on what is important, the validity of the dangers of the virus, and what exactly constitutes “staying safe”.

Although this is certainly our political context, what I’m finding is that pregnant and postpartum women are feeling a ton of guilt for making difficult decisions. They are feeling grief for the absence of visitors and the lack of help. But, they also are feeling alone. They feel isolated about the tension that arises when important people in their lives don’t agree with them on maintaining social distancing.

This is only going to become more confusing as we “reopen the economy”. People walking on the streets are already silently assessing each other’s attitudes and behaviors around social distancing. It is hard enough not being around friends and family, but navigating possible opposition to social distancing or taking risks is a whole new challenge.

So what can we do to cope? First, it is important to validate how much it sucks to feel disconnected to those we love. Second, you cannot manage how others behave during the pandemic. This is very difficult when you are actually living with someone that is on a different page than you. In those situations, try to reach out to others to brainstorm how you might approach the problem. Third, you may feel disconnected from some important people in your life, but you are not alone. Many mothers are navigating what the right decision is for themselves and their family, making tough choices, and doing the best they can given these insane circumstances.

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Stephanie Thrower, PhD

(617) 463-9484

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