Shifting sands: how Covid could help us make peace with uncertainty

Well hello there! It’s been a while hasn’t it? I’ve had a few blog posts in my head recently, but before I’ve had time to put fingers to keyboard, it has felt like the world has shifted and I’ve missed the moment!

In some ways this dilemma reflects life in 2021 quite well; it still feels a bit like we’re standing on shifting sands. As we ease out of lockdown, our next steps look more certain than they did, but there’s this latent knowledge in the back of our minds that we might need to change direction again at any point. All steps are tentative and reversible and all plans are open to thwarting.

This week has been a big one for us in England – taking ‘Step 3’ of the lockdown roadmap on Monday means we can now sit in other people’s houses, eat in a restaurant and even hug! It feels so good to make a cup of tea for a friend and watch them sink into a sofa to chat rather than huddle round a fire pit or pace round a blustery park. But behind all the joy of ‘normal life’ resuming lurks the knowledge that this virus may yet have tricks up its sleeve in the form of new variants and long-term economic and social consequences, many of which we can’t even see yet.

We’ve all had our idea of what certainty means challenged during this pandemic. My five-year-old Tiny has asked “Is Covid over now?” a lot this year, the impossible question we’ve all harboured as we navigate lockdowns, vaccinations and terrifying statistics. But I noticed this week that her question has shifted and she’s started asking instead, “Has Covid changed now?” Her question embodies the perspective all of us will need for the foreseeable future, recognising that Covid and all of its uncertainty remain with us. For a five-year-old, it’s perplexing that you can suddenly go to the cinema when you still have to wear masks in shops and have a swab stuck up your nose every few days. Although as adults we can rationalise it more easily, it still leaves us feeling unresolved and somewhat unsettled.

Making peace with this uncertainty is tricky, but necessary as we move forward. Being able to balance excitement with the knowledge that you may be disappointed is a helpful skill to have as it provides us with resilience and hope. But it’s an ability that only comes with the painful experience of frustrated plans, something I have experienced many times living with chronic illness. The ability to feel loss but make peace with it and still hope for the future is an arrow worth having in your emotional quiver.

I wouldn’t want to live through the last year again, nor would I wish illness or loss on anyone, but it is worth reflecting on the way this past year or so has reshaped our attitude to uncertainty. There are so many things that we can no longer take for granted, and perhaps living on shifting sands for a while will help each of us face disappointment and changes of direction in the future.


  1. Same thoughts. So many things have changed and during these uncertain time, I had struggled accepting the fact that it would take much effort to get things back the way it used to be and it could never work out in the way I want it to but being in this place reminded me to contemplate on myself, carry on and know my priorities, my goals. Thank you for your post. This gives me more hope.


  2. Ah, yes, you are so right! I have often thought this past year that life with chronic illness prepared me well for life in a pandemic. In fact, I went into a bad relapse of my chronic illness starting in March 2020 and lasting 15 months, so the pandemic didn’t affect me as much as it did “normals” – I couldn’t have gone out much anyway!

    Getting used to the unpredictable nature of chronic illness was one of the hardest parts of coming to a point of acceptance in my “new normal.” And, it’s interesting that you mention your 5-year-old. I’ve been sick since my sons were little, and then THEY both got the same disease (genetic) at ages 6 and 10, so they grew up with that unpredictability as a normal part of life. They got very used to last minute changes and “going with the flow.” And now they are young men in their 20’s, and they are both very well-adjusted. They’re used to being adaptable and it serves them well now as adults.

    Great post – very thoughtful!


    Live with ME/CFS


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