In a perfect world, today’s blog post would have gone out last week, but Friday was the one-year anniversary of Dad’s passing. (I marked the occasion by backing my car, full force, into David’s—a costly moment of mindlessness.) With the loss of both Mom and Dad in this last year, I expected my experience of grief to be more “dramatic” than it’s been—more weeping, wailing, depression, despair. Instead, the overriding theme has been a surprising inability to keep up with the mundane tasks of life, coupled with an unrelenting sense of urgency and overwhelm. The car incident, in fact, happened on an afternoon in which the overwhelm was feeling particularly intense and insistent.
I share this because my sense is that I may not be alone in my experience of “unrelenting overwhelm.” The grief of losing my parents is amplified (or, at times, even overshadowed) by the grief we all share right now—the grief of of losing the world we thought we lived in; of watching our democracy disintegrate bit by bit; of growing increasingly unable to understand half of our fellow citizens; of losing agency over our own bodies; of watching unethical leaders dismantle human and civic rights for millions. The list goes on. There is a lot to grieve at this moment.
And yet we cannot give up. There is too much at stake. To bury our heads in the sand and say there is nothing to be done is false and irresponsible. There is always something to be done. Everything we do matters. Every time we take even a small action in a positive direction it creates an energetic ripple out into the universe that encourages someone else and reminds them they are not alone, and helps them to keep going—a kind word, a smile, a gesture, a small donation of time or talent or money to a righteous cause…
And so, here I am. Reminding you that you are not alone and that we are in this together and that I will not give up—even if I am, at times, filled with “unrelenting overwhelm”.
There are things we can do to help ourselves in the face of our collective grief:
– Move your body every day.
– Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, and don’t panic if sleep is erratic.
– Limit caffeine and alcohol; and do your best to eat a balanced diet.
– Set small goals and congratulate yourself when you reach them.
– Practice self-compassion. Your usual expectations of yourself may not be realistic.
– Maintain daily routines of getting up and dressed.
– Give yourself regular treats (fresh flowers, a bath, a visit to a friend or a museum or a movie)
– Practice yoga and meditation. (You knew that one!)
We are in this together, truly.