Van Beek: The sadness of despair |

Van Beek: The sadness of despair

2020 has been a year of extreme stress and dysfunction. Normal routines have been disrupted in ways that have severely impacted our nation, region, and local communities. 

Many have suffered economic loss, social isolation, family disconnect, and deep uncertainty about our future. We have seen families unable to celebrate important occasions with their loved ones. We see children feeling lost at home, with an inability to connect with friends, and are missing key educational opportunities. We have parents literally dying in nursing homes alone because we are prohibited from visiting due to potential virus contamination. 

We are experiencing incredible financial stress, as our life savings vanish, and family businesses are prohibited from opening or must operate under unsustainable limitations. We have been kept at home under fearful conditions, with little opportunity to enjoy friendships, recreation, career, and in some cases, even the outdoors, which is a prime attraction for mountain living. 

It’s easy to begin to wonder about our safety, self-worth, relationships, and future. As we are confined to small spaces with limited freedom to venture out, it’s easy to let the worry, and the stress of it all, begin to take over.

Psychologists say that sometimes we treat terribly those we care about the most because we know that they will love us “no matter what.” They become our safety net of emotional build-up. If not careful, it can explode into unhealthy responses, and even potentially dangerous ones.

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Many have already heard about the murder-suicide that occurred last weekend. It breaks the heart of all in our community. The tension had apparently built to the point that a determination was made to end it all. This tragic loss of life was compounded by the fact that three young children were in the home at the time. The sounds, the images, the tears, the loss … they will carry with them forever. 

I’m certain that this was a couple that likely loved one another, yet other forces seemed to take over and the unthinkable occurred. Children who woke up with parents went to bed that night alone and frightened. Was this avoidable?

We hear of mental health issues increasing, but we tend to think of ourselves as being immune. We are not. Our bodies are built to handle stress in fight or flight.  In modern society, and particularly in quarantine situations, neither is acceptable.

We have even experienced this on the political scene, where disagreements have become quite personal, emotional, and even violent. We must consider that expressing our frustrations on a generic level, through politics, may help to release a degree of built-up hostility from other areas, but it also creates new challenges in community relations. How do we maintain the closeness we have established over the years? In the past, we’ve been able to disagree but remain close to those we care about because our common values surpass other areas of disagreement. 

Is the true danger of a pandemic the destruction of our family and community? What do we do? How can we keep it from becoming an incident from which we cannot return? 

Traditionally, we might head over to a friend’s house, work out at the gym, go to a pub, take in a movie, visit a relative, have dinner at a favorite spot … any number of things to withdraw from the tension and relieve the stress. Many of those options are not currently available. 

However, there are opportunities that you may not have considered. We are fortunate to have numerous programs and organizations to help reduce stress and regain perspective. We have so much to live for, and while we are facing challenging times, we truly can get through this together. 

Don’t be embarrassed that perhaps you are the only one experiencing hardship, or that others will look down on you in a time of need … we are all there, going through much of the same emotional changes … just different circumstances.

Please contact one of the places listed below. You can make it through this. It will become the story you tell your friends and family years from now… and you can even embellish wearing a superhero cape.

If you need help

  • Call 911
  • Call the Hope Center at 970-306-4673
  • Call the Colorado Crisis Center 844-493-8255 or Text “TALK” to 38255
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
  • Call Mind Springs Health in Eagle at 970-328-6969 or in Vail at 970-476-0930
  • Call SpeakUp ReachOut at 970-748-4410 or go to

We have all been there and we care! 

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