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  • Writer's pictureEllen Krohne

Toilet Paper and Acts of Kindness

Toilet paper hoarding is not a new phenomenon.   A shortage was sparked in 1973 by one of my favorite comedians, Johnny Carson.  The talk show host made a joke about a shortage of toilet paper that led to hoarding and shortages across the United States.

In 1973, people were attuned to shortages.  The nation was in the height of the energy crisis.  Johnny later apologized for his mis-statement, taking responsibility for the hullaballoo (his word) he caused.  The clip below on YouTube is classic Johnny:

It’s fun to spend a few minutes reminiscing.  Today, there are shortages of more serious items, like protective equipment, ventilators and sanitation products.

If you’re like me, emotions are all mixed up right now as changes come fast during the Coronavirus crisis.  From anxious and scared to outraged.  Lots of uncertainty and fear mixed in as we hunker down at home.

This morning on the Today show, one of the hosts, Hoda, offered this thought, “The best antidote for fear and pain is helping someone else.”  I find that to be true.  Focusing on others usually makes me feel more positive.  I decided to approach the day in that spirit and made a list of things I could do for others:

  • Send cards to nursing home residents who can’t have visitors now

  • Contact my friend whose husband is seriously ill in the hospital

  • Cook up a soup and take it to a recuperating family member

  • Offer to help work on projects in organizations where I volunteer

  • Write and post an informational blog about the opioid crisis

  • Bake my husband a loaf of home-made bread (I now know why my Mom had muscles – all that kneading!)

  • Start a project that will (hopefully) be a surprise gift for a loved one

These simple acts kept me from worry and focus on the latest news and posts today, which is what consumed me yesterday.  Today, I remembered to trust that He is with us.  We are not alone.  We may not be able to stop the virus, but we can each be responsible and stop the spread.

I was feeling better, but as I read the paper this evening, the obituaries shared that services would not be held for those that had died during this time.  My heart hurt for those who have lost a loved one in the midst of all this new normal of “social distancing” and “an abundance of caution.”  The normal comfort from hugs and time with friends and family members won’t be there for them.  The services that bring closure, remembrances of their loved one and a sense of ending, forgone.

Isolation compounded by their grief.  I’ll pray for them.

So, here’s the challenge for all of you who are kind enough to read this Grief Reflection:

First, please hold those who are grieving as this crisis unfolds in your thoughts and prayers.

Second, make your own list of ways to help others.  Then, knock that list down.  And keep doing it every day.

By spreading simple, small acts kindness to help others through this crisis, we will be blessed, too. Heck, we may even get lucky and score some toilet paper on our next shopping trip!

Heartlinks Grief Center provides grief support to all ages, regardless of ability to pay.  If you are grieving or know someone who could use assistance on their grief journey, please contact Heartlinks Grief Center at 618-277-1800 or email

Profits from the sale of We Lost Her and Heartbroken are donated to help support Heartlinks Grief Center.

Be blessed,


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