Writing Your Pandemic Story

It is too soon to say when the pandemic will fully become a distant memory and it very well may be a part of our lives for a long time. However, one thing is certain, we have come a long way since 2020. Have you taken the time to reflect on the past two years? Writing your pandemic story is an excellent way to preserve the memories of the most unique time period in our lives. 

writing your pandemic story - Business woman hand is writing on a notepad with a pen.

I’ve been feeling extra reflective as our world opens up again and we begin to recover from the coronavirus pandemic years. When coronavirus became a threat to our country in March of 2020, I was a weary mother of 4 kids, the youngest just 6 months old, and my husband was on a work trip to Spain.

When our country first responded to the pandemic with a travel ban, it was unclear if U.S. citizens who were already abroad would be able to come home. I was completely stressed out, imagining solo parenting these 4 kids indefinitely through a pandemic!

Upon the advice of a travel-savvy friend, I decided to immediately get in touch with my husband and advise him to get on a flight home as soon as possible, before the ban went into effect. I remember calling the front desk of his hotel at 4am their time, persuading the gentleman on the other end with my rusty Spanish to please put me through to my husband. “No, I don’t know what room he is staying in…yes, I understand it’s 4 am…yes, I still need to speak to him…”

Thankfully, he got home quickly, but what an adventure that was!

At the beginning of the pandemic, I remember wondering if mail and packages were safe to bring inside. I remember worrying if I’d find food in the stores when my family needed it. I remember disinfecting my groceries, trying so hard to keep my people safe from something the world knew so little about.

And now, here we are, two years later. Two years! We know so much more about the virus, have tools to protect ourselves, and have found new ways to do life while accounting for all that the pandemic can bring.

Before too much time passes and we forget what it felt like at the beginning and what it feels like to be here now, let’s take time to write these stories down. Then when the pandemic is just a memory, we can look back, read our stories and remind ourselves of what this unique time was like.

Here are some questions to get you reflecting. You can carve out time to answer the questions all at once, or take one day by day (or week by week!). No matter how you do it, make sure your story is told by capturing this experience somehow.

  1. What did you first think about the pandemic when you heard of it spreading abroad?
  2. What do you remember about when the pandemic was first detected in the United States? In your state? In your city?
  3. What were some of your biggest fears when the pandemic started?
  4. Did you ever have something on your shopping list that you had trouble getting from the stores?
  5. Did the pandemic change your purchasing habits, and if so, how?
  6. What was getting together with friends like at the beginning of the pandemic? Was it different than normal, and if so, how?
  7. What things did you feel comfortable letting your kids do and what were you hesitant to let them do?
  8. Did you have school-age kids who needed to switch to distance learning? What was that like? What was their learning space like at home?
  9. What things did you do/balance/achieve that you would have previously never imagined possible?
  10. What things are you more grateful for now after having lived through the pandemic?
  11. Who was the first person you knew to be diagnosed as COVID-positive?
  12. Did you lose anyone you loved during the pandemic? Share their story.
  13. Did you choose to get vaccinated when the vaccine became available? Why or why not? If you did, where did you get your vaccination and what was that process like? Did you have any side effects? What did life feel like after you got your vaccination?
  14. Which businesses did you focus on supporting during the pandemic?
  15. Did you mask? What did your first mask look like? Did you ever forget to mask (or unmask?).
  16. At different points in the pandemic, some businesses were closed and gatherings were restricted. What was that time like for you?
  17. How did your workplace change during the pandemic?
  18. What did you learn about yourself through the pandemic? What did you learn about your kids? Your partner? Other friends and family?
  19. What do you wish you would have done differently?
  20. What lessons do you want to take with you moving forward?

I wonder what the history books will say about these pandemic years. I wonder what kinds of questions our grandchildren will ask us someday, or if they’ll have a school assignment from a teacher to interview someone who was alive during the COVID-19 Pandemic. What will we remember? What will we share? How will each of our voices add to our collective history during this time?

Amber has lived in Minnesota her whole life, with a 4-year stint in Iowa for college (Go Norse!). She and her husband met while both trying to kayak for the first time. The kayaking didn’t go well, but their relationship did! They’ve been married for over 10 years and have four incredible children. Amber describes herself as a recovering perfectionist, unashamed introvert, and extremely empathetic. Her favorite moments are those rare ones during the day when time stands still and she can see with fresh eyes the amazing little people who call her mom.

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