This past year and a half has been so, so much. For most of us, it has been a traumatizing time. Filled with fear, pain, and grief. Especially since you may have lived through experiences you never imagined possible. Perhaps you lost someone, or even someones, unexpectedly and without saying goodbye. People you love dearly and/or with whom you had a complicated history. Or maybe you ended friendships and relationships, leaving what no longer serves. Or you moved away from what was once your home, seeking out a place that could nourish your soul better, or be closer to people who are beloved by you.
Maybe you lost yourself and so much of what you thought you knew. Only to find yourself again in the pieces. But this time, you saw yourself more clearly. The mess and the possibility.
Maybe you learned what it means to truly love yourself. Specifically, learning to love yourself through your grief.
Trauma and Feelings
Many of you will have spent the last year either completely overwhelmed and checked out, bored and isolated, or afraid and feeling alone. Perhaps a rotating combination of each.
This is a normal response to trauma.
And just as coming out of trauma takes time, support, and healing – so does adjusting to a new way of being through the trauma.
Even though so much has changed since COVID first began this pandemic, and the societal fabric around us began to truly break down on many levels and in huge ways, this new wave of variants can make you feel like nothing has changed. That’s normal. That’s expected. And it’s important to do everything you can to remind yourself that this time is different. So much has changed since this time last year. Specifically with the virus, there are new developments and understandings, new guidelines, new ways to keep yourself and others safe. Significantly within society, there are new and overdue deconstructions of white supremacy, and increasing support for decolonization being created. Of course there is much, much more to be done. But change is occurring.
You are literally remaking the world in your lifetime. And it is heavy work.
How can you support yourself through these times?
First it’s important to understand that when we block access to any emotion, we weaken and constrict access to all emotions. During times of trauma (like these), there is often an automatic survival response designed to block and dampen your emotions. This is your system’s way of making sure you survive. It’s actually a really helpful and healthy response.
However, this response is not designed for prolonged exposure to trauma like you are living through. It will continue to help you survive, of course. But it will start to negatively affect your life, relationships, and way of being in the world. It will cause the shutting down of all your emotions, or unexpected lashing out at others. Feeling floaty or out of your body, like things aren’t real, or trapped deep inside yourself where no one can find you. Being unable to move, step away from media or entertainment, or do the things you used to love. Trying to take care of others and give them what they need at the cost of your own self. Minimizing or denying the realties of this time, or imagining that you are uniquely untouchable and nothing will affect you. These are all signs of trauma.
This constricts your ability to be a present, embodied, empowered being and co-creator of your life. It robs you of your confidence, agency, voice, and hope. Traps you in reactivity, and weakens your connection to others.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ll continue to write more about this in the weeks to come. There is so much to say here. But for today, I’m going to focus on one small step towards emerging from that place.
Making Space for Grief
Grief can split you open in the most unexpected ways. Leave you laughing till you can’t stop. Or crying on the bus on the way home from work. It can find you during the middle of the night, and keep you from sleeping. Or it can burst out surprisingly through a flash of anger over a small, seemingly insignificant thing.
Grief is a wild, unpredictable, untamable energy that deserves safe expression. Grief shows you the importance of what you’ve lost. Whether it be a person, experience, way of living, or even long buried aspect of self. It reminds you that there are unknown depths to your being, that even you can never fully fathom. It clears the debris from all that has been lost or deconstructed, at the same time as nourishing and healing you for all that is yet to come.
You can build a conscious relationship to your grief by drawing on creativity, spirituality, and cultural practices that hold your being and lineage. Grief is undeniably not an emotion to be weathered alone. Indeed, you need a container and connection to fully access its transformative powers.
I invite you to explore the following ideas to see what resonates. As always, if you need a partner on this path, please do reach out. I especially support empaths, highly sensitive people, and intuitives to navigate waters just like these. You do not have to go it alone. Therapy can help. I’d be honored to support.
Sacred Containers for Grief
- Look up your favorite poets to find their words on grief. Collect the poems that speak to you in a document on your phone or laptop. Set aside time once a week to read these words out loud, and let them wash over you. Let the others who have also walked these paths hold you.
- Safely light a candle on an altar and connect with your healed and aligned ancestors or guides, who are here just to support your most aligned being. Ask to hear their stories and cultivated wisdom. Let their journeys support you. Allow all those who have come before to hold you.
- Watch movies that help you to cry. Let yourself specifically feel into the characters and all that it brings up within you. Speak to yourself with care and love as you grieve. Explore how others create from a place that you too know intimately, and how that brings healing to you in turn.
- Move your body in ways that are accessible and safe for you. Perhaps you want to turn on loud, angry music and go for a run. Or blast emotional music and dance without reservation in your apartment. You may want to join a kickboxing class. Allow your body to move the energy through you, feeling how your body can hold you in this way.
- Listen to music that brings you peace, or allows you to experience sadness. Enter into the flow of the song, and let the artistry carry your heart. Let the musicality hold you.
- Visit the ocean. Ask permission and share your desire for the water to heal and cleanse your being. Touch the water with your hands and feet, let it flow around you. Allow the water to clear you. Offer the water a gift from the heart in return. Feel how the world is here, present, alive. Waiting for your respectful and mutual connection. Waiting to hold you.
As always, take what resonates here with you, and leave the rest. Trust that you know what serves you best. If you need a guide on your journey, please reach out. I would be honored to be of service.
I’m glad you’re here.