April 10, 2020

We are Experiencing a Collective Grief.

Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


We are all going through a collective period of grieving and anticipatory loss.

The uncertainty of what is next, the toll of individual lives, the impact on the economy, our community, the loss of social physical interaction as we knew it, and redefining social connection virtually.

This is a moment in time when grief is not just being felt individually, but also collectively.

That feeling of uneasiness you are feeling right now that you cannot quite describe is you feeling into grief. We are grappling with the loss of the world as we knew it.

There is no guidebook for grief and we live in a culture that tends to not acknowledge or talk about grief openly. The loneliness and sadness we’re experiencing in grief can feel heightened because of this cultural response.

It is hard to describe grief because it looks and feels different every single day. Every day we collectively have to choose to show up for it in whatever form it presents in our own individual life and the world.

Some of us are experiencing grief around uncertainty. We are living in a time of history where we cannot run away. The only option is to learn to sit and hold space for all the emotions that are arising and noticing how we are reacting to them. Our patterns of pushing it aside now have to be changed for our world to change.

Feeling into our grief invites vulnerability. The waves of uncertainty that pass through us on a daily basis we accept are beyond our control and cannot just be “thought through” but also must be felt fully and wholly. To sit with all the grief, uncertainty, fear, and ambivalence of what this life actually means for us.

How raw and vulnerable many of us feel right now.

Grief recreates our sense of self and our identity in this world. It gives us time to plant new seeds to grow new roots. Keyword: time. You cannot rush your way through the grieving process. Maybe we are not supposed to stay the same, along with our world, and grief is a reminder that nothing is certain—everything is always changing.

In a way, change is the only thing that is certain right now.

It is okay to not be okay as we navigate through grief. While it can feel painful, unpredictable, and maybe some guilt arises, feeling into our grief can be a source of hope. To feel grief is to feel what it means to be human.

Feeling into the world’s collective grief is giving us permission to slow down and to connect to ourselves deeper. Grief arises when we do slow down—when we do take the time to feel into the discomfort rather than masking it through distractive behavior.

Grief does not only arise because of death. It can also arise when our lives do not turn out the way we envisioned they would. The loss of feeling in control, of feeling certain what the future holds, the loss of a vision and direction, and even seeing or hearing others suffer. Change, loss, and transitions are all part of grief.

We are collectively grieving.

Some people have lost their lives, some have lost jobs, homes, futures that no longer seem possible. We are impacted by this physically, emotionally, and mentally. We are all feeling on some level the impact that is resulting from this pandemic.

For some, it might bring up past grief. For myself, I think about my lost loved ones more, our memories together, and the life I could have had. Observing my triggers and not reacting to them in a way that harms myself or others is something I have to consciously put mindful effort into every day to manage.

The only way to get past grief is to sit with it and fully feel it—all of the discomfort that will arise. If we truly give these deep emotions time, to just be with them, they will pass. Feel all the emotions that arise with grief: anger, frustration, fear, guilt, sadness. It is okay to feel.

Emotions are simply fluid waves of sensations that pass through. They are fluid, nonlinear, and not fixed. They will change. They will pass through if we allow them the space to do so.

Giving yourself permission to grieve will allow you to see yourself and your life, our world, with new eyes.

Grief teaches us to slow down and to recognize the beauty in the moments we do have. The present moment—the here and now—is all we can rely on.

The only way through grief is to be present with it. The reason we grieve is not because we are weak, but rather, because it is a reminder we are emotional beings.

Let yourself go through the waves. Do not try to hold yourself together all the time. Fall apart. By falling apart, you invite in a new perspective of how much love there is in grief. Every day, every moment is going to feel a little different.

Our emotions need motion to pass, and they will.

I am not here to sugarcoat grief. It can feel dark and deeply painful at times and grief is here to change us, to expand us, to open our hearts wider and deeper. Walking my own journey has taken time, but every day I make a commitment to myself to simply show up as I am. Remember you have already survived so much. There is wisdom, growth, and transformation in all of those experiences.

It is okay to be sad in our grief, but we must learn to sit with our sadness and not judge or blame, but instead choose to softly breathe into it—breath by breath. It is bravery, whole-heartedness, and being able to see life with creative eyes that move us forward.

Remember, to feel grief is to also feel love at the same time.

Now more than ever, it is important for us to practice mindfulness. To practice being in our body so we are not focused on the fearful thoughts swirling our mind. The only way through this is to be as present as possible, and to practice self-care.

Find embodying activities that soothe you and allow you to be both gentle and comforting during this time. Activities such as journaling, painting, expressing through movement, meditation, listening to music, taking a bath, cooking. Some people may need mental health support, and that is okay too. Reach out and take care of your body, mind, and heart during this time.

What a deep, human collective experience we are all experiencing on some level. And at the same time, we are also cultivating collective resilience.

Cry, laugh, and be honest with people that you, we, are all grieving. Give yourself permission to grieve: the space to feel into the emotions that arise and let them simply be.

I have to remind myself that healing is not a linear process—it takes patience to grow with it.



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