Inspiring letters from lockdown
SENDING EACH OTHER HOPE IN HARD TIMES
Tia Kiley first heard about coronavirus when she overheard her parents talking about people getting sick overseas. Now the 10-year-old Queenslander is one of thousands of Aussies penning letters to record this incredible moment in our history.
LETTERS penned by ordinary Queenslanders are painting a picture of what the state has experienced during COVID-19 - from fearing for the future and missing human touch, to experiencing clearer skies and the joys of backyard camping.
Experts say writing your own letter can help to process “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the pandemic, the worst since the Spanish flu 100 years’ ago.
The Courier-Mail today highlights some of the letters written by Queenslanders as part of Australia Post’s Dear Australia campaign, which encourages people to write letters documenting their experience of lockdown to be preserved for future generations.
While 10-year-old Tia Kiley was learning trampoline tricks and camping in her backyard, 20-year-old Maddie Conaghan was delivering hot meals to returned travellers in a “quarantine hotel”.
Sebastian Draper, 37, missed human touch and Marie Kelly-Moran appreciated clearer skies while longing for a time she could cuddle her grandchildren.
“We’re feeling a distance between us like we’ve never felt before,” renowned author
Morris Gleitzman, 67, (inset below) wrote in his letter. “But we still have stories.”
Former Young Australian of the Year, Lucas Patchett, co-founder of homeless charity Orange Sky Laundry, wrote of the toll the pandemic had taken on those less fortunate as the organisation was forced to wind back operations. “This pandemic has forced us to temporarily pause the 250 shifts, 10 tonnes or washing, 150 safe hot showers and 1500 hours of conversation that happened each week across the country,” he said.
Research psychologist Trish Obst said writing a letter about your experiences, even if you never posted it, was therapeutic.
“There is heaps and heaps of research on the benefits of reflective journaling, it’s quite a common therapeutic tool,” Dr Obst said. “I think it’s an absolutely fabulous idea, it probably will help people to think more clearly about their experience and think about what was the good, the bad and the ugly on it. From a mental health perspective that’s a really good thing because it helps to integrate your experiences into your sense of self.”
Dr Obst said reading other people’s letters can make you feel more connected.
“It makes you feel part of the community that has had to go through this together,” she said.
Selected letters will be put on the Dear Australia website and a host of others archived at The National Archives of Australia in Canberra.
Maddie Conaghan and Tia Kiley (opposite page) pen their words of wisdom.