Quarantine is a burden for all of us. There's really no one out there that's loving this time of isolation but there are absolutely some of us that are losing more than others. One of the first groups that come to mind is our graduating seniors. Whether they're moving on from high school or college, a senior year in quarantine means missed traditions and a lack of closure.
A few weeks into quarantine, a movement started on Facebook. People of all ages started posting their graduation pictures to "support" their graduating friends. Despite good intentions, many seniors have asked the social media world to stop. Seeing pictures of their older friends experiencing what they could not isn't lessening the hurt of missed experiences.
Regardless of how you feel about posting your own senior picture, here are a few other, less controversial and more sincere ways to support the seniors in your life that you love the most;
1. Be intentional and willing to listen
Odds are, your senior friends are going through different stages of emotional processing. Connect with them as much as you can. Offer to listen. Call them out of the blue. Ask them honestly about how they are feeling. Have grace when their moods seem to be all over the place.
2. Offer to help to re-create a senior memory
In no way will a recreation of a senior event be the same as the real thing but offering to take senior pictures or make a special graduation meal is better than nothing. Maybe this means holding a socially-distanced ceremony in your neighborhood or decorating a car. Maybe this means just taking a few moments to drop off a card. This is better than nothing.
3. Be creative in celebration
As we have seen in countless viral videos, digital celebration is alive and well. Have a zoom party. Pass on a great digital grad speech. Post pictures or videos to celebrate your friends. It may not be traditional but it shouldn't be ignored entirely.
4. Don't forget the impact of a grad gift
Just because there aren't traditional graduation parties (at least not yet) doesn't mean 2020 grads should get shortchanged on grad gifts. Drop off something special or send a digital gift card. I promise they will be even more gracious after everything they've been through.
5. Ask them what they need
While this one probably seems like a given, it can easily be overlooked. Every graduate is different. Some may need constant check-ins and a zoom grad party while others may be looking for some space and time to themselves. Ask your friends what you can do to make this season easier to manage. They know what they need better than anyone.
I may not be a May 2020 grad but with a planned graduation date in December of 2020, I understand the fear of missing out on many "lasts." Some of the people I love most are walking through this unknown season with strength and grace.
I personally think the only way to properly love and support them is to ask them what they need. To have grace as they process countless emotions. To be understanding of the whiplash that is this season. I do understand that missing graduation is better than being sick and frankly, I think the move to remote instruction was a necessity but that doesn't make it hurt any less. You can NOT compare 2020 to the Vietnam War and comparing losses isn't going to help anyone.
Let's do everything we can to support the ones we love, especially those missing out on huge milestones. This too shall pass but not without a bit of a fight.
We love you. We stand with you. We are so proud of you. More than anything, we are here for you.