by, Katherine Lycke, LMFT
It feels like the world has been cancelled.
It is an odd experience partaking in an elongated, history-making event. No amount of binge-watching apocalyptic movies could prep us for the gravity of fear, disappointment, anxiety, and sadness the current state of the world possesses. The grief is crippling to everyone in a collective, however very isolated way. Collective trauma to this degree merely existed in history textbooks and grandparents’ memories. However, here we are. Trapped in a nightmare. Engaged in a war against a beast we were ill-prepared to battle.
Apart of this battle, the world has been cancelled. Teachers anxiously scramble to deliver an education, using platforms ill-equipped to promote knowledge to a young, confused, and overwhelmed group of kiddos. Homes are plagued with a sudden change of income, routine, and reliability. Graduation ceremonies, proms, weddings, and anything remotely ceremonious poof into thin air. Denied. Postponed. Cancelled. Gone before they even happened.
Collectively, we must work together to battle this beast. That’s what the media outlets continue to preach. Togetherness. Teamwork.
What about the grief?
But what about the grief? I’m sitting here with an idle pencil because there aren’t words to capture the weight of it. We are all up to our eyeballs in grief, trying not to drown in it. We need space, time, a pause button to hit so we can catch our breath. Regroup. But, there’s no such thing as a pause button. There is no choice but to keep going. No luxury to catch your breath.
For a therapist, these are uncharted waters. Years of training did not prepare us for the level of countertransference, compassion fatigue, or test of professional boundaries. Holding space for grief, worries, and frustrations for hours with only a computer screen to read body language while your cat is simultaneously climbing into your couch cushion and getting stuck and you have gut-wrenching decisions to make about your wedding that’s supposed to have been in a month looming over your head is A LOT.
I always tell my clients that growing pains don’t only exist in our legs. Grief brings growing pains. All the sudden every single one of us are being forced to learn how to be OK with being just with ourselves. How to be OK not knowing. How to be OK being completely and utterly out of control. A lot of former coping tools are inaccessible, meaning not only do we have to learn how to be “OK” but also learn how to help ourselves be “OK”. Add disorientation to the list of emotions to grapple with.
What you can do
We’re to the point of this somber story where you’re probably wondering “Ok, so what’s the antidote Miss Therapist Lady?” Great question.
Grace. Something that has become shoved aside by the hustle and bustle of life prior to the attack of this beast. A few weeks ago, writing off grace was as common as “Oh, I’ll clean out that junk drawer later. I don’t have the time.”
Well folks, now it’s time to search for that grace and lean into it. Give yourself and your expectations grace.
Permission to not have it all together.
Grace to be a hot mess, sleep in, cry, be a “just ok” mom or partner.
Give your grieving high school and college seniors grace to be angry and sad as hell their accomplishments are not going to get the honor they have earned.
Grace to those who are distracted and are having a hard time maintaining focus for any length of time.
What NOT to do
Please don’t try to understand someone’s grief, for this is not the goal. Seniors, brides, nurses, isolated grandparents, and furloughed individuals just want space to be held for them. They crave a grace period to fall apart, to let their anger, fear, and loneliness out. They want to know it’s OK to not be OK, and that you will love them through this battle.
Don’t forget to lend yourself a little grace too. Something we can always rely on is change. This is temporary, just like everything else. Today that is a comfort. Lean into that comfort, grab onto your grace, and know you will be loved through this.
Click here to learn more about Katherine, or complete the contact form to the right to get in touch with her for a free phone consultation. We’re online during quarantine, to support you.