“Against the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak, I’ve had four conversations with four different friends that were deeper, more emotional, and more honest than I can remember having had in the months that proceeded. The steps we take to keep ourselves safe – whether isolating or breaking up our normal routines – can also exacerbate our feelings of loneliness, even fear. Knowing we’re all experiencing these feelings in different ways is all the more reason to make the effort to connect. Here’s what I would suggest.

Jot down a list of people – even just three, four, or five – under the following headings: friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. Develop a contact plan for the days and weeks ahead for those you should be reaching out to on a more regular basis. It could be an aunt who lives alone, or far away, that is taking this outbreak especially hard. It could be an older neighbor, or neighboring couple, who may be isolating as a precaution and may need help or just company. Some you may want to contact every day, some every week. These need not be long conversations – they can even be emails or tags on social media.

What I know is that this will make them feel better — and you, too. I certainly felt this with the friends I spoke to recently. They felt an empathetic release, and I did too. You’ll offer comfort to these friends, coworkers and relatives, and you may find benefit and greater intimacy that will, one day, pay dividends. At the end of this period – and rest assured, it will end – you will emerge with more, deeper, and better relationships.”


Jim McCann is the founder, CEO, and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. as well as a business leader, author, and philanthropist with a passion for helping people deliver smiles. Devoted to helping others, he also founded Smile Farms, a 501(c)3 organization that provides meaningful jobs in agricultural settings to young adults and adults with developmental disabilities.

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