Serious dad with his son outdoors

‘What if something happens to us?’ – Uncovering the impact of the pandemic on our attitudes towards family and the future

The pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our lives; from the way we live and work, to the way we travel, and how we organise our time. 48% of people we surveyed said they now think more about keeping their affairs in order and sorting out their paperwork. Evidence suggests that slowing down, spending extended periods of time at home and rethinking our connectedness with family, had an impact on relationships, has sped up important conversations and decisions, and inspired people to take on life admin.

Family and loved ones have played a big part in later life planning during the pandemic. Helen says the pandemic has enabled her and her family to “Focus our minds on the bigger picture.” She shared with us the conversations she’s been having, with talks centring around ‘what if something happens to us?’ This niggling thought, ultimately prompted her to take stock and sort out her, and her family’s medical and financial documents.

Those who are primary carers for family members, have also felt motivated to get their documents in order. Shelagh recently became a carer for her mum, a responsibility which means she needs to know where her mum’s paperwork and important personal documents are and have access to them.

Similar to Helen, the pandemic has made Shelagh “Think even more about how important it is to be able to get to my family’s documents quickly.” Spending more time at home has had an impact on people’s general need to feel organised and comfortable in their space, either for their own mental and emotional wellbeing, or that of their loved ones.

On family, future and forward planning

Anecdotes like these from people in our community got us wondering; has the pandemic simply uncovered underlying anxieties about family that we had already? Has it amplified them? Or has it created a whole new set of worries?

Chartered Psychologist, Honey Lancaster-James, explains how the uncertainty of the pandemic has confronted the public with the harsh realities of life. She clarifies that “The act of filing and organising paperwork in a way that feels well-managed, has far bigger benefits than merely on a practical level.

We have become more aware of the impact of our own actions, not only on ourselves but for our loved ones. As Honey says, “Many people have had an urge to get their own affairs in order, just in case the worst was to happen, but also to get things in place with our family, so that we can handle whatever may be around the corner during precarious times.”

Permanent change or a temporary reaction?

Prior to the pandemic, there was a sense of limitless time and possibilities. We’re now well over a year into living with these fears; the world is beginning to open up for some of us and we’re slowly finding our feet in the post pandemic world. So, what happens now? Will we forget the anxieties we accumulated during the pandemic or will they have a more permanent impact on us? Will we start planning for the future even more, or seize the day and live in the moment?

Honey explains that the digitisation of modern life has turned a real corner, and that “Moving away from piles of paper has added benefits.” It means we are “Liberated to go anywhere, work from anywhere, and access what we need from wherever we are in the world, without worrying that we have to go to a physical building to access it.”

As we move towards shedding life’s paperweight in a post-pandemic word, Honey concludes that “We will increasingly be working on things together from across the miles, at a distance from one another geographically and socially, and yet we want to remain connected.” Going paperless will no longer create the barriers it once did.

There are also some surprising therapeutic benefits that come with the physical act of sorting, ordering, shredding, and filing. Read our blog for more insights from Honey Lancaster-James on the psychological weight of unfiled paperwork.