By Grace Maselli
The Tampa Bay Timebank took on the subject of grief and loss in its Third Tuesday of the Month member and guest meeting on Tuesday, October 20. Psychotherapy and hospice-trained experts from the TBT leadership team—Nancy Wolf, Christina Bellamy, and Judith Rose—guided about 25 participants in a Zoom meeting to recognize and honor the various faces of grief. The tender examination of loss and its effects included disruption to mourning by Covid-19 and people forced to be separated from loved ones infected or killed by the virus. Grief was discussed in the context of the profoundly unsettling absence through death of someone loved and the painful adaptations necessary before adjustments can be fully integrated.
Giants in the field of grief and loss were invoked: psychiatrist, humanitarian, and hospice pioneer Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and her five stages of non-linear grief—Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance, and leading death educator and grief counselor, Dr. Alan Wolfelt at The Center for Loss & Life Transition.
Grief can cause a broad range of symptoms both emotional and physical, TBT’s presenters reminded us—from forgetfulness and detachment to everyday life, to fatigue and chest pains.
The discussion, inclusive of a small group Zoom breakout session, extended to the significance of rituals and their power to comfort people in deep emotional pain. Even within the context of Covid, family members, friends, and neighbors can reach out, safely drop food off for grieving families, and be present to another person’s pain with attentive, compassionate listening. Rituals can demonstrate that even in active mourning, we can still be surrounded and cared for by people who remain in our lives. With presenters drawing on Dr. Wolfelt’s work, we understand this can arguably happen (even now using masks and social distancing) through “companioning” with a person who has experienced a loss, being present to another person’s pain—going into the deep wilderness of the soul with another human being—and honoring the spirit, not the intellect.
Grief and its stages, our TBT experts offered, are ultimately a natural and adaptive response to deep loss. The experience is singular and personal and does not follow a prescribed path to reach a given level of adaptation.
The presenters also shared community resources. Following is a partial list of Tampa Bay Area organizations available to assist individuals and families:
- The Life Center of The Suncoast Inc.
6811 N Central Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
- Compassionate Friends
6938 Riverview Dr, Riverview, FL 33578
- Unity North Tampa [First Sunday of the month, 12:30-2:30; donations accepted]
19520 Holly Ln, Lutz, FL 33558
- Soaring Spirits International, Tampa Bay Widowed Persons Group
By Grace Maselli
Today’s the day. Started in 1970, the global Earth Day event to honor environmental protection and the miracle of our abundant planet involves 193 countries worldwide. A lot has changed since 1970 and the inaugural Earth Day when Richard Nixon was at the helm of the U.S. government (and the year he created the Environmental Protection Agency). To put it in terms NPR’s using, “Earth Day at 50: Climate Activists Go Digital Amid Pandemic Shutdown”—the celebration and activism are forging ahead despite the effects of COVID-19.
A stunning “It Can Be Done” Earth Day message also honors Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was also Research Director at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the UK’s University of Cambridge. Hawking reminds viewers to take protective action in the precious time that remains. But you don’t need to be a theoretical physicist to make difference.
Teen Vogue prompts us to remember we can all become catalysts for positive change right here in our own Tampa Bay Area backyard. Take the lead from our youth and do some simple stuff: plant something, ride your bike, buy reusable bags, stop subscriptions to paper-made catalogs. And Tune into Earth Day Live for inspiration and emphasis on small steps with the power to add up to meaningful environmental impact.
In the renowned words of Rachael Carson, an American biologist who drove awareness of the dangers of pesticides and author of Silent Spring, a powerful book that influenced the environmental movement in the U.S.: “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
By Grace Maselli
Meet Mary. She’s an “Infection Preventionist” RN at Tampa General Hospital. See her mask? This was donated to her and some of her Infection Preventionist friends through the network of Florida Timebanks and its literal grassroots mobilization. Why? To assist healthcare workers not only in our immediate area, but other places. Take New York, for instance. Once again, Ground Zero for a crisis.
As of this writing, anti-coronavirus queen and TBT member Delphine Geraci has sewn 610 masks—with another 45 in line for completion today. Upwards of 75 of the beauties will be sent to a Brooklyn healthcare center described as a “war zone” by a hard-working physician there.
Delphine’s gotten some help from timebank elves across the region, not to mention timebankers’ neighbors, and the faith-based community. Our “runners” are buying and donating elastic bands and washed-and-cut fabric, bringing them to the drop-off table at Delphine’s house (and any other willing sewer who’s ready to come forward with her or his spools of thread!)
Staving Off Airborne Particles
The masks are intended to extend the lifespan of N95s, aka, “respirators and surgical masks (face masks) that are examples of personal protective equipment used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face.” In other words, a calculated barrier against Covid-19. No doubt you’ve heard that N95s are in short supply, with medical staff using them longer than they otherwise would. Supplemental timebank masks are designed to help lengthen the lives not only of N95s, but strengthen their precious and courageous wearers.
Llamas, Mustaches, and “PUL”
The timebank team’s fabric cutters, elastic gatherers, drivers, and sewers are using “The Turban Project” face mask pattern, though there are others among us also using a larger pattern. If you’re in the mood to explore, there’s lots to know and download from this site. Our fabrics are covered in llamas, polka dots, Haight-Ashbury tie dye, Star Wars memorabilia, and mustaches. Delphine, a Bariatric RN, is also making some out of “PUL,” or what’s described as a “disposable, breathable, and waterproof fabric, specially treated so that it is not harmful to the skin, both in adults and babies. PUL has a great variety of utilities and uses, such as the making of disposable masks and other sanitary covers.” According to Delphine, “PUL gives better protection when worn alone. Cotton is best when worn over an existing mask.”
In the meantime, we’ll keep on the move, aiming to help by being part of the larger community effort—part of the whole, as long as we’re able.
It’s true what they say: it takes an (underground) village to grow a heart to 50 times its normal size; this writer has never been more proud to be a member of a community that’s got one big enough to go around.
For donations of breathable cotton fabric and related supplies, contact Rita at 608.335.2382.
By Grace Maselli
It’s a happy, life-affirming truth that Florida Timebanks’ members—in Tampa, Spring Hill, and St. Petersburg—have myriad talents to share with each other and the community at large. Personal health and cancer prevention are among the subjects members study. Jim Zorman, Spring Hill Timebank health writer, presented recently on diet and disease prevention at TBT’s Third Tuesday monthly meeting at Tampa’s Life Enrichment Center on Tuesday, August 20. Attendees who eagerly came to listen to “Big Jim” Zorman speak numbered 23. Among the key concepts covered: cancer cells thrive on sugar. Avoid High Fructose Corn Sugar, white flour, and alcohol that metabolizes as harmful sugar. Protection can also come in the form of correct doses of Vitamin D. The Cleveland Clinic offers supplemental info to complement Big Jim’s assertions: “Diet, Nutrition, & Healthy Lifestyle Help Reduce Cancer Risk.” Also referenced during the meeting was New York Times Bestseller, Radical Remission, Surviving Cancer against All Odds, by Kelly A. Turner, Ph.D.