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Difficult Times

by Victoria Doster, MSW, Institute Fellow


Difficult times, what does that mean? It means something different for everyone at certain points in life, but it is safe to say that we are all going through difficult times right now, even if we don’t think so. Somehow someway, all of our lives have changed outside of our norm within the past months. Change can be difficult, even for the most resilient people.

After my third time of ordering groceries to my door, something that I always advised against outside of “difficult times”, I realized that maybe I was going through difficult times. I always advised against home delivery because it gives people another avenue to isolate themselves. Even those of us who isolate, need food. Food was the one thing that made the most isolated people leave their homes. Before COVID19 came along, grocery delivery services and food delivery services were becoming more and more popular. Now, these services are “essential”. In fact, it is “essential” that we isolate ourselves now.

This hit me hard. Now let me be clear, the grocery store wasn’t ever my favorite place, but it wasn’t my least favorite either. The last time I went to the grocery store, a little less than a month ago, I remember smiling at several people. Usually, I would receive a smile in return or maybe a verbal greeting. But it was different the last time, I didn’t receive any smiles or greetings, instead I received mere smirks or side eyes, no smiles and no greetings.

The first time I ordered groceries through delivery, I was caught a bit off guard as there was not any knock, phone call or text to notify that the delivery had arrived. My groceries had been sitting outside for almost two hours before I noticed that they had arrived. I thought to myself, “how rude”. I later opened the grocery app I used to make another order as I had realized that I forgot to add a few things to my first list. I realized there was a notification, with a picture of the groceries from the first order, in front of my door. I felt a bit more relieved but still a bit off. I placed my second order of groceries to be delivered. Again, I didn’t receive any notification that my groceries were delivered. However, this time I had been paying close attention to the app to track my order, so I was able to retrieve my groceries in a timelier manner. I began to accept that this will be the new norm during these, “difficult times”.

The third time I ordered groceries through delivery, I was checking the app almost every hour to make sure that I could retrieve my groceries right away. The third time, I received a knock. Outside of my door was a kind woman, with a face mask and gloves on, with a smile that I could see through her mask, waiting to let me know that she had found all of the items I requested and that my delivery was complete. This was a pleasant sight, a person with a smile. She even wished me a good day.

While we are learning to live in our new norm, we must learn to smile again. The same thing I recommend for my clients to do during difficult times, I decided that maybe I should do them too, after all, I am human. I’ve found myself making signs with inspirational quotes around my home, to make sure that I remind myself that everything is okay, and this too shall pass. What are you doing to remind yourself that YOU are okay?

For many people, this may be a difficult question. The strangeness of our collective experience in this time, and the isolation that is required of each of us, doesn’t mean that our hearts and minds will all react in the same way. Individual’s lives and circumstances may leave any sense of optimism seemingly out of reach, and what can serve as comfort for one person may not be available to another. So, what is getting you through the day? What provides you a sense of joy or peace? What is sustaining you and reminding you that you can come out the other side of this?

What can you do in your own unique circumstances to remind yourself that you are okay?

If you’re not okay, there are resources for you to seek support. 

These resources may be able to help you through this difficult time.

National Suicide Hotline


relay Service – Dial 800-273-8255

TTY – Dial 800-799-4889

Voice/Caption Phone – Dial 800-273-8255

National Domestic Violence hotline


1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

National Sexual Assault hotline

800.656.4673 Online chat available

LGBTQ+ National hotline


National Alliance on Mental Illness

Information about Covid relief payments

Information about food assistance

Information about unemployment

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