Marquita Griffin

Last week I wrote a story about HGI Counseling Center in Richmond, a nonprofit that provides therapy services to anyone who may need it — man, woman, or child.

Right now, most of us need it, or something like it. And I’m not being facetious.

Before the pandemic, we worked through our worries over coffee with our cousins, sitting comfortably at the kitchen table with our mothers or fathers, or laughing inside our favorite happy hour spots with our friends.

We gathered on porches or in the backyard, barefoot and resting our tired bodies on worn lawn chairs.

We met at parks and gyms on the pretense of working out, but really we wanted to catch up, vent or gossip.

Families hovered around barbecue pits, beers in hand, toasting to the end of another grueling workweek.

But it’s not so easy to engage in such activities right now.

Some of us may have resumed our regular rituals, but the worry still lurks in the back of our minds.

Parents, business owners, associates, and friends, who have resumed their routines despite the pandemic, told me in detail what they do to feel safe.

Masks. Gloves. Excessive washing. Social distancing.

Being diligent in lessening their chances of exposure. Repeatedly taking tests.

It’s exhausting, they say, and I agree.

I consistently wear a mask, and I haven’t seen family members — who I would have easily seen several times a week — in five months.

A friend of mine recently drove to her hometown to visit her parents.

Each one of them had recently tested negative, but just to be safe, they all wore masks in the house.

It was an unnatural feeling, she said.

Her mother just turned 60 years old, an occasion she and her brothers wanted to celebrate fully.

But what should have been an exquisite night on the town treating their mother like royalty, was condensed to emotional phone calls and sinking feelings of failure.

She’s not alone in this experience.

From coast to coast, people are missing the comfort we provide one another.

We’re missing our shoulders to cry on. We’re missing the hugs and kisses and dancing the electric slide in our grandmothers’ living rooms.

We’re missing getting under the hood of an old car with our uncles and grandfathers who are “going to learn us a thing or two” about fixing an engine.

We’re missing the hand patting the couch cushion, followed by the request: “Tell me what’s wrong.”

We’re missing out on celebrating at baby showers and bridal showers and even offering condolences at funerals.

And we can’t forget the health care and first responder personnel who are working these insane shifts, under these insane circumstances, and are digging deep within them for the resolve to return to work tomorrow.

All of what we’re experiencing — the deaths, the increasing cases, the endless virtual meetings, preparing for an uncertain school year, a precarious economy, the vitriol on social media, political bickering, racial tension — is wearing us dangerously thin.

The stress gets to me, but I have a support group that I couldn’t be more beholden to.

I have people in my life who are willing to chat and cry with me into the wee morning hours.

They allow me to exhale my frustrations and fears and keep me from crumbling in on myself.

Do you have the support you need?

If you don’t, reach out to HGI Counseling Center. All of us deserve someone who can help us navigate this chaos. Visit for more information.

Reach Marquita Griffin at

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