We Took Hugging for Granted; Reflections on the Pandemic of 2020

Oct 6, 2021 | Covid Stories

By Ines Altemose
I remember a time when hugging (as well as kissing) was reserved for relatives and close friends. In my many years in the workplace, it was customary to shake hands when greeting someone. At parties, we just smiled but never hugged. I can’t remember when this all changed – perhaps 15-20 years ago?

When our book club meets, we all hug each other. When we have parties, we greet our guests with a hug. Rather than handshakes in the last of my working years, I got hugs from my closest colleagues. My financial planner always greets me with a hug. To me this seemed natural and I forgot it wasn’t always that way. Until COVID 19.

I haven’t hugged anyone other than my husband since March 16th! That is 15 weeks and counting. Even the few visitors we have had to our house involved maintaining appropriate physical distancing.

This has made me realize we took hugging for granted. It was a social norm among relatives, friends, and close acquaintances and colleagues. Now everyone is wondering what the “new normal” will look like. I can’t imagine hugging will come back as a norm until there is a vaccine and/or antibody therapy. So for now, we must be content with virtual hugs. I sure am looking forward to hugging again! How about you?