Patience, Optimism & Faith – Managing the Unbearable Heartache of Separation

The Villager, 2020

The restrictions imposed on people around the world to stop or slow the spread of the novel coronavirus have been most painful for families separated from their loved ones. When Central Baptist Village closed its doors to visitors in March, family and friends were literally on the outside looking in, ‘touching’ and ‘holding’ their loved ones’ hands from the other side of CBV’s glass doors and windows and mouthing the words, I love you. The many months of lockdown have been hard, despite herculean efforts by CBV’s staff to maintain connections through video chats—nearly 63 a week since April—and outdoor visits that started at the very end of July. There simply isn’t a replacement for sitting next to someone you love, holding their hand or giving them a hug.

“It hasn’t been easy,” says Barb Essig, a resident of The Commons at Central Baptist Village. “I just really miss my kids. I’ve only seen someone from my family twice in the last seven months and haven’t seen my two great-children at all.” As one family member puts it, “I just feel so helpless out here, unable to do anything for my mom. I am used to seeing her almost every day, so this has been unbearable for both her and me.”

Though they might feel helpless, family, friends and even strangers, have been an integral part of helping CBV maintain its spirit. “The ongoing family support and understanding is incredibly uplifting,” says CEO Dawn Mondschein. “Their cooperation, patience and trust is keeping us afloat. All they want to do is help us get through this.”

That support is shown in many ways—from iPads and tablets, puzzles and sudoku books, to gifts of food for residents and staff to keep up their morale, to community art and service projects that spread joy across the campus. Children from schools sent hand-drawn pictures and cards, and churches have made face coverings and cards. One family coordinated a community drive and collected over 600 handmade notes for our residents—twice!  “Someone anonymously dropped off flowers one day,” Mondschein shares. “The note said they just wanted the residents to know they were thinking of them.” 

The hardship the pandemic has brought has been matched by people’s generosity and patience. “Our CBV families and friends just want to know what they can do,” says Rachael Telleen, CBV Director of Sales and Marketing. “Families will drop off cookies for their mom and dad, for example, and bring extras for other residents who may not have family close by.”

Mondschein says everyone feels the pain when they’ve had to cancel visits. “As a community , we miss the physical presence of our residents’ families,” she explains. “But really, they’ve been with us the whole way and their support and patience is so deeply appreciated.