On The Power Of Touch And The Power Of Words by Teresa Schreiber Werth

We never think much about our sense of touch until we lose it. I don’t mean when we lose the sensation of touching something or being touched by someone. I mean, when we are deprived of touching others…. people….when hugs and handshakes become potentially deadly activities.

Enter the Pandemic of 2020. As the long-awaited “new normal” unfolds, those taken for granted, pre-pandemic interactions – hugs, high fives, handshakes, intimate dinners, big weddings and funerals, huge family gatherings – are beginning to happen…cautiously. But it also remains disconcertingly difficult to know for sure, what’s right, safe and respectful.

It’s taken many of us months to stifle the once-automatic reaction to extend a hand, come in close for the cheek kiss or get in someone’s face, literally.

I was recently cleaning out a box and found a bunch of business cards I had made many years ago when I worked in home care. The card says, FREE HUG with a cute little drawing of two bears hugging. What to do with them? What was once a cute and playful gesture has become downright scary.

And while science proves that regular hugs with those closest to you, even if brief, can have especially positive effects on your brain and body, we have been warned that in a pandemic, they can contribute to the transfer of COVID. We are stranded in a lonely and cold dilemma.

And so, without the help and healing of touch, we turn to the other major connector of our species: words. More specifically, I turned to Cardthartic, ( a greeting card company dealing solely in words and images. Long before the pandemic, I discovered this gem on line and began ordering from them. Their cards touch people in many important ways: they convey intimate feelings and emotions with an economy of words. They are not too sweet or too simple. They are just right. The messages are poignant, funny, clever, personal, tender, perceptive, amazingly universal without being trite, and, most importantly, honest. The images chosen for each sentiment, capture the words in powerful ways.

Their 2020 catalog, cleverly entitled HINDSIGHT 2020— with a masked face on the front and a card proclaiming, “I Miss your Face!” —came at a time when I was feeling especially isolated and discouraged about where we were and where we were headed. I literally sat at my desk in a very deep funk and READ the catalog, letting the words and images wash over me, all 112 pages! What I remember so clearly about that day, is how much better, lighter, more relaxed, I felt when I finished. That memory stands as a testimony to the power of words and pictures. That was the moment that led me to include Cardthartic in the Additional Resources page at the end of our book. That decision to share what this company offers is as important today as it was on that day so many months ago.

We are beginning to feel and act as if the pandemic is over, but we cannot state that just yet. And there are still many people suffering from the grief, trauma and loss inflicted on them. If we can’t reach out and touch them, we CAN send them gentle, caring cards with words and pictures that let them know they are thought of and cared about, that will make them laugh or think or remember. If a picture truly is “worth a thousand words,” imagine how powerful it becomes when paired with a beautiful message and a personal note, touched by your hand?

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