We shake with joy, we shake with grief.
What a time they have, these two
housed as they are in the same body.
(Mary Oliver, Devotions )
A day after we decorated our Christmas tree, the top half of the bright, colorful lights went dark. Sigh. It’s the perfect 2020 tree. Light/darkness and joy/grief are intertwined, wrapping around us.
Mary Oliver’s poem has been echoing in my soul over the past few weeks. We know what joy feels like. But that heaviness that you’re feeling is grief. It’s everywhere. Grumpiness, disrupted sleep patterns, short tempers, and tears just below the surface. These are symptoms of grief. Behaviors and feelings can appear exaggerated and out of whack. Though we’ve been living with it for months, grief is enhanced by the losses and changed traditions of the holidays.
I want to bring you tidings of comfort and joy by naming, normalizing, and empowering you to move through this challenging time.
Though people usually associate grief with death, it’s much broader. Grief is the natural human response to loss. When you consider the mind-boggling scope of losses that we’ve experienced this year—in relationships, daily routines, plans, hopes, dreams, traditions, rituals, and lifestyle —grief is to be expected. This is also a collective grief, meaning that people across the globe are experiencing grief caused by the pandemic. It’s massive and unlike anything our generation has experienced. We are feeling our grief and others’ grief.
For me, the worst loss is the loss of being together in person. We humans are wired to connect. So the loss of that connection shakes us to our core. Especially during the holidays. And the hugs. Oh, how I miss the hugs!
We can’t wish the sadness away, fix it, or cure it. We can only learn how to live with it and carry it. Recognizing the losses is the way forward and through into more joy.
Here are some practical steps to empower you:
- These are tender times. Be tender and kind to yourself and others.
- Journal or write about the changes and losses, or talk with a trusted friend, family member, or counselor about them.
- Savor moments of meaning and gratefulness. Pause to appreciate goodness periodically though the day.
- Walk outside and reflect on how nature such as trees and plants can teach us how to cycle through loss and new growth.
- Remember that you are never alone. The Source of Love is within you and around you always. We’re all invisibly connected in ways that we cannot comprehend.
Dear friends, I send you tidings of comfort and joy during these challenging times. I look forward to one day soon when we can be together and HUG!
With love and hope,