• Pandemic: What’s Making You Cry (Happy & Sad)?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in CoronaVirus     Comments 30 comments

    Discussion question: We asked a few WriteByNighters what’s making them cry, happy and/or sad, while under stay-at-home orders. Their answers, with relevant links, are below. What’s making you cry these days? Let us know in the comments, and include links to any videos or articles you mention.


    It’s an undeniably sad time. Days bleed together, often with little to distinguish one from the next, except for charts and graphs showing the rise of grim numbers. If you could use some humor — and I’m sure you can — we ran a post asking WriteByNighters to share some things that are making them smile or laugh these days.

    But we should also talk about the abundance of things that are making us cry. Laughter and tears go well together: sometimes we laugh so hard we cry; sometimes we cry so hard we laugh. And sometimes we just cry.

    I asked a group of WriteByNighters what’s making them cry, happy and sad, these days. Their responses below.

    We’d love to hear from you, too: What is making you cry, happy and/or sad, these days? Let us know in the comments, and include any relevant links.


    I found out John Prine, who’d been hospitalized with Covid-19, died last night. This is one of his songs, which makes me cry both sad and happy tears, sad for his loss, but happy because I think it’s a beautiful song, and I feel like I’m in the presence of something angelic when I listen to his music.

    — Tom Andes, WBN coach/consultant


    My partner and I both cried together as we watched this video by Chris Mann honoring everyone on the front lines, from health care to cashiers to sanitation workers, etc. Captain Crozier’s sendoff by his crew also brought a tear to my eye.

    Elissa Malcohn


    I have long been heartbroken over the loss of the world I knew as a child. I’m a trailing-edge Baby Boomer and I remember truly blue skies and summer days containing a natural vibrancy that inspired the joy of just being alive. Even then, a dystopia crept steadily over the world. It took a great leap on 9/11/2001, which event took me a few years to appreciate. This current event is an even greater leap in that dark direction.

    Realization of this “critical challenge of the hour” (as Thomas Merton described our times) casts a constant shadow in my mind and spirit, infusing my writing with melancholy shades. Ergo, hopeful writing is difficult for me. Even my novel-in-progress is in the post-apocalypse genre (though I’m sure the world I depict is overly optimistic).

    Ray Foy


    Well, everything. But more specifically, I had a minor breakdown the other night while listening to “Tom Courtenay” by Yo La Tengo. I’m also reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein which isn’t making me cry, but is making me incredibly sad because apparently I need more of that?

    Aaron Block, Yak Babies host


    What isn’t? I know that’s a shitty answer, but it’s all I’ve got.

    — Joanne Walters


    First off, the news makes me sad. I try to limit my intake. I hid Flip Board because I was drowning in it. Now I stick to the newspapers, Morning Edition (while I shower and shave), and the local TV news.

    My mother’s in an assisted living facility. Her routine has been completely disrupted. She’s not allowed out of her apartment, and all of the usual programs and entertainment have been canceled. She has dementia, and it’s exacerbated by all of this. We have private aides with her for socialization, and that helps; but she still goes through moments when she thinks she’s being punished. She calls me and my brother incessantly about not getting fed, being forced to go to bed in the middle of the day, and everything else you can imagine.

    I’m also frightened about the tigers and lions having COVID-19. Granted, there’s a limited number of zoo keepers they can eat, but if the disease can spread to the big cats there’s no reason to believe it can’t spread to housecats. That would be a horror show. Ultimately we’d have to kill them all.

    — Jerry Schwartz


    I just finished watching the last season of The Good Place on Netflix, and the last episode made me bawl :) I love that show!

    Also, I live in London, and the past three weeks there’s been a campaign for everyone to step outside their house (or stick their heads out the window) at 8 p.m. on Thursday night and clap for healthcare workers and other essential workers who are helping us get through this crisis. The first time it happened, my entire street erupted in claps and cheers and even fireworks, and it was really moving to see the community come together like this while we’re all keeping our distance… So yes, that made me cry too.

    — Adriana Cloud, WBN coach/consultant


    I started a new job recently, where I write about people who are helping others get through this crisis — people who run housing complexes for those with HIV, disabilities, and those recovering from addiction and homelessness, people who provide comfort to those who are transitioning through death and the family members who travel along as witnesses, people who are working to get food into the hands of so many people in need. Talking with them one on one makes me feel more brave, brings me into a space of admiration and humility. Sometimes they share their deeper fears and their motivations for helping in the first place and this makes me both happy and sad — that there are people out there willing to devote themselves to the care of others and sad that they carry such huge responsibility and must risk themselves and their safety during this crisis to continue their work.

    — Cecily Sailer, WBN coach/consultant


    Thank you for reading and contributing. We hope you’re staying healthy and staying safe.

    This post is part of a series collecting the experiences of WriteByNighters during the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are links to the rest of these discussion posts:

    What’s making you smile and laugh

    What is giving you hope and encouragement

    What are you reading?

    What are you writing?

    How are you writing?

    General discussion


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    David, thanks for these discussions. This is what is making me sad. First of all, I am trying to strike the right tone here. A while ago I wrote about this in an email to a friend who is a nurse and it turned into a full rant. I will try to stick with sad and not drift into mad. As a healthcare worker, what made me very sad the other day was to walk past the hospital where I work and see that someone had posted on the lawn in huge letters: HEROES WORK HERE. First of all, I… Read more »


    I agree about the ‘heroes’ thing. I am a nurse and am just doing my job, but I am not a hero about it. I’m scared. I’m not brave. But I have to work, so I do it. Keep healthy, Susan.


    Additionally, those working in nursing homes without the relied-upon help from family members who sometimes can feed their loved one a meal or keep a confused mom or dad occupied are to be supported and applauded. There’s never enough help.


    You are so right.


    You too!

    Deborah S

    My oldest and dearest friend is in the hospital fighting this beast, my 75 year old mother is suffering from a fracture in her spine that cannot be treated until at least May, and I suffer from anxiety. I am trying so hard to talk myself out of losing it. Sometimes it works. Sending love and healing thoughts to the world.


    Love and healing to you. I pray for a full recovery for your friend and your mother. Does it help to write?

    Deborah S

    Thanks! It does but I’m having trouble getting motivated.

    Deborah S



    Despite the fact I am not locked down at home, since I still have to go to the hospital to work, I had a minor melt-down yesterday from the loss of light-hearted coffee dates with friends, dinners out with my husband, and having the (occasional) dirty look from people I get too close to in stores. I just want things to be back to normal.


    I’ve had moments exactly like that Silke. Normal sounds exceptionally beautiful now.

    david lemke

    I don’t think we can ever go back to “normal” at leat not the normal we used to have. Hand shaking may never return, at least not among strangers.

    Silke Chambers

    Ha ha! And there are so many variations–the warm handshake with the slight bow, the awkward one where the hand is held just a little too long, the brisk “German” two-pump one. Not much variables in a fist bump.

    david lemke

    Obsessing on the numbers of infected and the deaths and how the government is using this to get richer and to take our right and what little money we have. I don’t worry much about me; I’ll survive or I wont, but when I talk to my kids, and they are counting change so they can buy food, and they have to go out to work in a dangerous environment, or are trapped in the house. I never had that experience, I could always come and go as I pleased without any fear; work, bars, concerts, Summerfest, parks, lakes, beaches,… Read more »

    david lemke

    That will be devastating for the city and for musicians; the larges music festival in the world. I saw John Prine there on a side stage. His death strikes me hard. One of the last suggestions I got from the writing group was to read The Artist’s Way. I picked up a copy and started reading it. Within, there was an exercise, write three pages every morning with no rules and no agenda but to ignore your inner critic. My mornings are so disrupted that I have no routine. For some reason I hate this exercise and have never found… Read more »

    david lemke

    The Artist’s way is a book on ending writer’s block. The only thing in the paper I read is the comics and the Sudoku which Sue and I race to see who can finish it first. I do them in ink. If I pick up a pencil, it means she is probably going to beat me. She used to give me crap for never reading the paper, but I figure, if it’s important she’ll tell me. I rarely watch the news. If Sue didn’t watch TV I’d never turn it on. except for the Packers. I once witnessed something and… Read more »

    david lemke

    Haven’t gotten that far into it yet (artist Way) I must admit I’ve been occasionally watching football highlights of You Tube. We will see.

    david lemke

    I don’t mind going to games but I don’t watch on TV

    John Liebling

    Imagine a city’s lock down in 1918. With only radio for company. Most Americans still did not have a radio in 1918. Entertainment like movies are closed down. Football stadiums are empty. These times are not easy for anyone. Certainly more difficult for some people and some locations. We will all get through this but the economic and political order will change. Soon we will all be entering a post Coronavirus world. How that will shake out? We members of the imagination team – Writers have a great advantage. Humor and imagination the two most important ingredients to weathering any… Read more »

    Charity Marie

    Happy – my fiance and I are getting officially married on Sunday, despite Covid-19.
    Sad: the death toll keeps mounting and our government continues to be incapable of coming together to properly fight it, leading to more lives lost. Maybe it’s inevitable – this virus is a beast – but it would be nice to know the government were functioning properly.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x