Sunday, April 26, 2020

Things to Do - Read

Picture of stories coming to life out of a book
Where stories come to life - BOOKS!

A good way to pass the time in isolation is to read! You can always go back and read classics. Even childhood favorites are fun. When was the last time you read The Jungle Book, or Aesop’s Fables, or The Ugly Duckling?

You can of course pick up and hold a physical book. You might read online printed materials, articles and ebooks. Or you can listen to audiobooks.

You can even visit libraries in virtual worlds. The Virtual Ability community has a library on Cape Serenity that features only works by authors with disabilities. Some are classic books, and others are writings by community members. Here is the SLURL to the Cape Serenity Library:

Here are some resources for obtaining free texts to read.

For free ebooks:

If you are a fan of mangas:

Here are comics to enjoy:

Here are some book lists if you need suggestions of titles you might enjoy or learn from.

And last, twenty free audiobooks everyone should listen to:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

How to Write a Sympathy Letter or Letter of Condolence

Pink rose lying on marble stone

Why you should write

A condolence letter is a way to express your sympathy for a person who is grieving the death of a loved one. It can be comforting to the recipient to know that they are in your thoughts; you are acknowledging their grief. Additionally, your letter honors the person who has died. Your note of sympathy won’t alleviate the grieving person’s pain, but it will provide a measure of comfort during the grief process.

Why you might want to write a shorter note instead of a letter

If you do not know either the deceased person or the recipient of your note well, and your statement of sympathy is a social formality, write a short note instead of a longer letter. Follow the same guidelines (below) for the content of a condolence letter, focusing on items 1, 2, 3 and 6.

When you should not write a condolence letter

It is generally not appropriate to write a sympathy note to someone you do not know or with whom you have only a passing acquaintance. In fact, a research study of the impact of an intensive care physician or nurse writing a condolence note to relatives of people who died in an intensive care unit increased the recipients’ depression and PTSD symptoms.

What you should include in a sympathy letter

Finding the right words to write in a sympathy letter can be difficult for many of us. The emotion of sympathy may come easier than expressing that emotion. You will want to be sincere and genuine, while being sensitive to the recipient. You may feel more comfortable about your message if you write out a draft first before copying it neatly. Think about what you would want to hear from a friend, family member or coworker if you were in the letter recipient’s place. Your words should come from your heart; there is no need to be fancy.

Yes, sympathy cards are available in stores, but they are entirely too impersonal. You can use one, but should include a handwritten note on the card, or a handwritten letter on a piece of stationery folded inside the card.

The letter can be addressed to the single grieving person or to the family as a whole.

Here are the six common components of a condolence letter.

  1. Acknowledge the death. Don’t use euphemisms for death; we all understand what they mean. Personalize your letter by using the name of the person who has died.
  2. Express sincere sympathy. (Remember, you do not know how the recipient of your letter is feeling, so you can admit that.) It is usually not appropriate to empathize.
  3. Provide a detail about the person who has died. If you knew him or her, write some of your memories of that person. What were his or her special qualities? If you only know the letter’s recipient, write about how much the person who died meant to the recipient.
  4. Remind the person you are writing to of their own strengths and good qualities. This can help them remember or learn how to deal with their grief.
  5. Give a concrete offer to help, if you can. Think of specific practical assistance you can provide.
  6. End your letter with an active thought, hope or statement of support. Show that your letter is not meant to end your involvement with the recipient. Remember that your letter is intended for the living, not the dead.

There are many online templates for condolence letters. Feel free to use one that offers a fill-in-the blank format, but personalize it as much as you can.

What you should not include in a condolence letter

Unless you are a member of the same faith as the recipient of the letter, avoid any religious wording or overtones. You should also avoid trite phrases such as “it’s for the best” or “these things happen for a reason.”

Remember that everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Provide support, but don’t be pushy. Avoid discussing the cause of death.

Don’t make a generic offer of help such as, “Call me if there is anything I can do.” This puts the burden of calling on the person who is grieving. Instead, be specific with offers such as “I will bring a tray of cookies over tomorrow for your guests,” or “I will stop by next week to mow your lawn (or take you grocery shopping).”

Another thing to remember about supporting someone who is grieving

Before you begin writing your condolence letter, enter your friend's name into your calendar approximately 3 months and 6 months from the date of the death. This will remind you to make contact again. Many grieving people have felt that they are surrounded by support and love in the days immediately following their loss, but then they find themselves grieving and feeling alone in the weeks and months following, as if everyone seems to have forgotten the cause of their grief. Be a good friend and offer ongoing support.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Things To Do - Watch Zoo Animals

Black movie projector on pink background

Sure you can see the cutest YouTube kitten and hedgehog videos, but since we can’t get out and walk through a zoo, watching live cams will have to stand in, without the odors. Sometimes the cameras catch a zookeeper at work.

Hint: If the animal you want to watch is not visible when you turn on the web cam, try at a different time of day. Some animals are more active at dawn and dusk than at mid-day. And remember, the animals may not be in your time zone!

Here are some zoo cams you might want to check out.

Do you enjoy watching the zoo animals? Remember that now the zoos are closed to the public, they have no income… but the costs of feeding and caring for the animals continue. If you are able to do so, please consider donating to your local zoo.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Things To Do - “Listen to this!”

Green frog on lily pad singing and playing guitar

A Virtual Ability community member recommends viewing these coronavirus/quarantine music videos.

Hello (from the Inside)

Neil Diamond - "Hands... washing hands"

One Day More (Les Mis family parody)

My Corona by Chris Mann

Clay Agnew - Social Distance

The Kiffness - Lockdown Rhapsody

Beauty And The Beast- The Corona Version

"Stayin' Inside" - Corona Virus Bee Gees Parody

My Corona Home - ("Kokomo" Parody Song)

Things To Do - Visit HealthInfo Island in Second Life to learn about many health-related topics!

Of particular interest in these pandemic days, you might want to check out the displays at Virtual Ability's HealthInfo Island on stress and on vaccines.

Did you know that April is the month for Autism, Occupational Therapy, Sjogren's Syndrome and organ donation awareness, and many other things.





So may topics to learn about this month.  Come visit!  To join Second Life please visit the Virtual Ability web page.

Things To Do - Post a Heart in Your Window

Red and pink paper hearts
Makes you feel better already

Sister Abeyante suggests participating in this activity to show we care about our neighbors.

This activity was begun by a woman in North Dakota. You can read about it on her Facebook page. It’s very simple, so simple a child could do it.

Make a heart. Could be a simple cut-out shape, a crayon or marker drawing, or a fancy collage creation. Hang it in your window. Take a picture and send it in.

What else can you do? Trade snapshots of the hearts in your windows with your social media friends. If you are able to take a walk, see how many hearts you can spot in your neighborhood. You can even make a scavenger hunt by looking at what all the neighbors have in their windows.

Just remember to keep your distance from other people’s artwork.