The Grief of Social Distance

It’s only been a few weeks since social distancing measures were first employed in our state. It’s only been a few days since the governor enacted a “stay at home” order. For others, social distancing and shelter in place orders have been in place longer. Now, after the orders have been given and the novelty of being at home is wearing off, we have to begin the work of adjusting to our new reality.

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Monday Meditation: From Suffering to Inspiration

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.

-Winston Churchill

This is a horrible and scary time. The majority of our society has never dealt with something like this before. Some lived through the Great Depression, where they saw more than toilet paper depleted from store shelves. Others lived through the turmoil of WWII, when homes were destroyed and food and goods were rationed. A few may have lived through the Spanish Flu of 1918. Through pandemics, wars, and the depletion of goods, somehow society and culture managed to survive.

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Mourning in a Time of Social Distance

It’s the first full week of “social distancing,” a new term in our lexicon that basically means “stay away from people,” in this case, by staying at home.  While the death toll around the world increases, it’s easy to see where an observation about grief might fit. People are dying from a new and therefore easily communicable virus. However, this isn’t the only issue we face when it comes to grief.

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Monday Meditation: Resilience Goes Far

Resilience can go an awful long way.

-Eddie the Eagle

Right now our resilience, our ability to recover from difficulties and to maintain mental toughness, is being tested by a pandemic. Every day we have to commit to renewing that resilience for another 24-hour period without certainty of when the current stressors will end.  Though it might feel impossible at times, we can do it.

Resilience is not a trait that you are either born with our not. Resilience is a skill that you can strengthen and improve through daily work. Resilience does not mean that you feel no worry, anxiety, or stress. Resilience means that you persevere despite worries, anxieties, and stresses.

Our resilience will help us through this health crisis, and through whatever personal crises may result during or after this time. If you haven’t felt particularly resilient in the past, now is the time to work on building it up. Accept our current situation, adapt to the new normal in which we all exist, cultivate patience, release fear and judgment, and remain in the present moment.

If your resilience is faltering, focus on making it through each day and leave thoughts of the uncertain big picture behind. Each day is new. Each day you can begin anew. And each day allows you to build your resilience a bit more. Allow yourself a moment of sadness if you feel it, but return yourself to the path of resilience and let the sadness help strengthen you.

Resilience through adversity will help us maneuver through this time.

Monday Meditation: Look Around You

I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.

-Anne Lamott

It is easy to become caught up in day-to-day activities and ignore our surroundings. It is especially easy to do this when swirling in the middle of grief. Sometimes we have to force ourselves out of our comfort zone (or current zone) to examine what is happening around us.

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Monday Meditation: After Winter, Always Spring

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.

-Hal Borland

The seasons are inevitable; we cannot stop them from coming no matter how hard we (or another) might wish to try. We cannot keep the cycle of change from running its natural course. Grief has its seasons as well, the hardest of which is the dark winter that swallows us immediately after loss. As is the nature of seasons, the winter of grief will return–sometimes it will be worse than previously, other times better.

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Monday Meditation: You Can’t Prevent the Spring

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.

-Pablo Neruda

Loss can feel like someone has cut all the flowers off their stems and left an ugly, empty, reminder of what once was. It may feel as though nothing good will ever come into life again. However, the seasons of grief move on their and bring us to a springtime that rekindles possibility and hope. Whatever obstacles may develop before us, they are not strong enough to the prevent a time of rebirth from emerging.

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Grief 101: Does grief follow the same pattern for everyone?

In short, No. More evidence for the “grief is unique” discussion is that grief manifests in various patterns, further confirming that we can’t (and shouldn’t) tell others that we know exactly what they are going through and that we have the perfect solution to “fix” them.

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An Ash Wednesday Reflection

Today is Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of the season of Lent for many Christians, including Catholics like me. Lent is a period of self-preparation before Easter, forty days to ready your body, mind, and spirit to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.

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Monday Meditation: Call for a Do Over

Nothing in the universe can stop you from starting over.

-Guy Finley

Every once in a while, we yearn for a fresh start.  We may, however, hear that fresh starts are for the young…or someone without kids…or singles…or just not us. Remember the days on the playground when we called for a “do over” because of some unforeseen interference in our play? Where did that habit go?

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Monday Meditation: One Day, One Thing.

Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.

-Simone de Beauvoir

To change the movement of your path, you just need to take one step each day. These steps don’t have to be big, they can be as small as you would like. The point is to take them. Grief can and will feel overwhelming when we overthink its presence and let it accumulate a cloud of sorrow over us.

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Monday Meditation: Self-Mastery

Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.

-Lao Tzu

The new year brings resolution fever. People create lists of habits they would like to break or new things they would like to do. However, these lists may not help those recovering from loss. What might grievers resolve to do in new years?

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Christmastime 2019

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking through Trader Joe’s doing the weekly shop. My baby girl was sleepily bouncing along in her Baby Bjorn as I strolled the aisles. It was just after Thanksgiving and about two weeks before Christmas. Holiday items were out for sale and I was just beginning to think about what I needed to buy for holiday meals and what we generally liked to have around the house this time of year. Then, as I was walking by the frozen foods, I found myself having to take several deep breaths to calm an overwhelming urge to sob. It worked a little bit, I was still crying but not in any excessively noticeable way. And there I was, shopping in Trader Joe’s crying by frozen fruit and desserts because I missed my mom.

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Monday Meditation: Christmas Season

Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.

-Winston Churchill

While we associate Christmastime with joy and excitement, for grievers the season may be a bit different. If you find the Christmas season neither joyful nor exciting, it’s okay. This week (and the weeks preceding) can be difficult if you are missing someone special.

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Monday Meditation: The Role of Pain

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

-Khalil Gibran

Loss comes with pain; emotional and physical. Unfortunately, it is part of the process and we cannot get around it. Often, we seek ways to avoid the pain, to numb ourselves to it. Some distractions are healthy, others not. While the pain is overwhelming and may return to you when you least expect it, consider that grief pain plays an important role in your healing. The pain is a revelation. It pulls the curtain back on the depth of your love and your heartbreak. It peels away the veneer of your security to unveil vulnerability. It removes the barriers to a deeper knowledge of yourself, your loved one, and the grief supporters surrounding you. Before you move to block pain, try changing your perspective on the purpose that pain serves. It is not here just to wound you; it is here to reveal something to you.

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