There’s not one car in the street. Not one person walking outside in our usually vibrant neighborhood. The air is eerily still and silent and heavy with loss.
We’ve lost predictability, order, economic security. We’ve lost jobs, money, school for our kids. We’ve lost a sense of routine, structure, normalcy. We’ve lost the chance to socialize with others other than via a tiny screen in our hands or on our desks. We’ve lost our ability to plan pretty much anything. We may have lost health or loved ones. And some of us have lost our sense of meaning.
Amidst all that's missing, I notice something else that has taken up residence: a dull gnawing in my gut. A cluster of emotions I recognize as grief.
Grief can shepherd us from great despair to deep peace. It can even
Grief always accompanies moments of loss. It’s a special cocktail of feelings that each of us experiences differently.
For me, it’s thick and murky. It’s a journey through sometimes brutally strong emotions. Occasionally, when I’m grieving, I get a glimpse of serenity – the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel – but mostly it feels like I’m trying to swim through mud.
That’s probably why my attempts to write about grief over the past several days have been so messy and fruitless. Thank goodness for the Harvard Business Review and this excellent interview with grief expert David Kessler.
Kessler offers us good news: Grief can shepherd us from great despair to deep peace. Grief can even bring us to a greater sense of meaning – some clarity and understanding that wasn’t available prior to the triggering event. But this can only occur if we name our grief, embrace it, and stay with it. The way forward is through.
We really, really need each other right now. In times of isolation, containment, quarantine and social distancing, our relationships are even more vital to our individual and collective resilience. We need each other to make sense of things, to chart that path toward understanding and meaning. And, staying connected, treating others with the extra empathy and tolerance we all require right now, is really only possible when we’re aware of our emotions and express them in constructive ways.
So, even if it isn’t as popular as the latest hand-washing song-and-dance craze, now is the time to be honest with ourselves about grief.
Honoring grief in this very confusing, stressful, unprecedented time is an act of self-awareness and self-love. It’s a powerful step toward deepening our connections with others. And it’s a move in the direction of finding meaning from this mess.
Just for a moment, why not stop cleaning, checking Instagram, and sending funny videos? Why not sit, for a moment, with your own raw truth and its attendant grief? It won’t last forever.
Kessler encourages us, “Let yourself feel the grief and keep going.”
Let’s be courageous, not only with our health, our economic situation and each other, but also with ourselves and our emotions. Let’s uncover our own unique expression of grief and perhaps a bit more meaning. And let’s do that together.
BE is the first principle of Authentic Communication, and it’s shorthand for the kind of self-awareness explored in this post. The second principle, LISTEN, is our most effective tool for connecting with others. And ACT, the third principle, represents the myriad ways we express ourselves with truth, clarity and authenticity.
Here you'll find some of my thoughts about communication, contemplation, yoga, life and various other topics. Thanks for giving them a read.