Dear Esther August 2022

Dear Esther, 

My family did pretty well during the last two years of the pandemic, and we are now trying to get back to our normal way of life again. Despite being fully vaccinated, a few of us had Covid recently. Since they were mild cases, it has caused us to become more relaxed and take greater risks in a pandemic. This is working out just fine for us but not everyone in our extended family feels the same way. I tried to plan a family gathering but some of the family members do not feel comfortable attending. I am trying to be patient but enough is enough. I am tired of living my life in fear of a virus and so desperately want to get back to a typical lifestyle complete with family gatherings. How do I get my family back together?   


Dear Judy, 

You are not alone in feeling frustrated and fatigued by the pandemic and your feelings are valid.  However, the feelings of your relatives who do not want to attend family gatherings are also valid. Each person will gain the confidence they need to move towards getting back to their norm at their own pace. Family gatherings and friendship circles may not be complete, but it should not prevent you from moving forward with your plans.   

Have you thought about allowing family members to “zoom in” to the family event? Or changing the venue to create more personal space? You may have to look at family gatherings differently. Instead of getting together at one time, it might have to be a series of smaller events. Although it’s nice to have everyone under the same roof, it might be an unrealistic expectation at this time.  Go visit that aunt who is uncomfortable attending for a one-on-one visit in her home or yard. Keep your eye on the goal: having and maintaining a connection with your tribe. It may not look or feel the same but that doesn’t mean it is all bad.   

It is obvious that family relationships are important to you. Keep in mind that even though you do not agree with someone’s way of handling a situation (in this case, a pandemic), the most important thing is to preserve the relationship. Some of the keys to having a successful family include feeling loved and cared for, having a sense of safety, and belonging, and everyone in the family feeling valued and respected. So be mindful when you are communicating with family members who are reluctant to attend and let their decisions be okay. Be flexible when it comes to interacting with your family and your definition of getting the family back together. 

I can tell you love your family very much. With time and patience, this too shall pass. Be gentle with yourself and only focus on your successes. If you get half the family under one roof, you did good! I wish you good health and lots of fun family times ahead. 



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