Your Family Tested Positive for COVID-19, What Next?

So the inevitable has happened. What started off as a few harmless symptoms have now turned into a definitive conclusion on a medical report — your loved one has tested positive for COVID-19. 

While the recovery rate is encouraging, your heart will likely skip a beat when you find out a family member or someone close to you has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Knowing that a loved one is part of the sometimes frightening statistics that flash on the news can be a tough pill to swallow, but it is a crucial time that may require you to step up.

“For a person, when they or their family member(s) test positive, the first reaction is fear. You’re afraid because we have an overload of information about this,” Rohini Rajeev, a Bengaluru-based psychotherapist in marriage and family practice, told Re:Set.

With a vaccine still only on the horizon and people quickly forgetting social distancing norms, if you do find yourself in this precarious situation, here are Rajeev’s tips to navigate it.

It’s OK to be afraid 

“The extreme form of fear is panic. Being able to think straight and doing what needs to be done is the most important thing,” Rajeev said. Fear is the first emotion that you need to acknowledge and tackle. If you were the person who infected your family or your family tests positive and you don’t, there could be some feelings of guilt and you may also feel anxious and stressed.

A loved one’s COVID-19 diagnosis can be an emotionally distressing time particularly if you live away from home. Photo courtesy: Pexels

Don’t give in to fear mongering

It is the overload of information that feeds fear, Rajeev pointed out. For many people, WhatsApp forwards and other channels of misinformation could become a constant source of worry. Remember to limit how much you’re taking in and verify what you and your family members may be consuming. “Don’t read anything and everything coming your way and don’t believe ‘pop doctors and pop psychologists,’” she added.  

Be prepared 

 “In India, every state has a different rule, even districts have different rules,” Rajeev said. According to her, it’s best in any scenario to have a comprehensive understanding of what the COVID-19 protocols are in the region you live in and read up on government and official health advisory websites on what to expect and be ready for.

Reach out for support 

In other illnesses, you can count on friends and family to pitch in, Rajeev observed, but in the current circumstances, it may almost seem unfair. But in such a dire state, it’s necessary to at least try to ask for help like requesting a neighbour to bring you groceries while you’re in home quarantine. 

Renew connections

It’s natural to have lost touch with people over the years but this can be a good time to catch up again. Rajeev pointed out that especially for elderly members of the family, speaking with other relatives and friends can give them an outlet to vent their frustrations. For many, this can be an emotionally overwhelming time so having someone you can depend on to talk to can ease your mind.

Know how you can help 

If you live away from your family and they do catch the virus, being armed with knowledge is important, Rajeev said. It’s natural to feel even more helpless and confused in such a situation. Try to read up on the facilities available around your family, the procedures and essentials they’ll need to take in case they have to leave home. Ensure that they have a way to communicate with you even if they’re in quarantine.

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