FOR THE LOVE OF RELATIONSHIPS – The Superpower of hope

One of the most difficult emotions we deal with is grief. When we are shocked with a devastating loss, it has been described as a punch in the gut, rendering us breathless. The fragile nature of life can be unimaginable. We ask questions that cannot be answered. The awkwardness of stunning disbelief suspends time and space which feels like a bad dream. What we are trying to do is make sense of it all. I think of the people in Florida who survived Hurricane Ian, while their homes and their belongings did not. Loss of the rhythm of one’s life, loss of predictability and loss of security can create a loss of an identity of a life woven together by years of work, building, and gathering. Disruptions of life such as a massive storm that destroys homes and entire communities can disorient anyone. 

What do we do. We do not have set rituals or steps to channel this grief and loss. We do not have the guideposts to go through the steps of grief as life becomes unbearably different and the future looks less certain. What gets us through this rocky time is summoning superpowers we did not even know we have. What our superpower is at this moment is meaning, purpose, serving others and nurturing our relationships. Life goes on with less predictability and less clarity, but our relationships get stronger as we lean on one another.  We get through loss one day at a time.  A new reality and rhythm eventually takes root as we heal with the passing of time. 

When so many are dealing with great loss at the same time, there is a concept identified as communal grief and loss. Because there is so much devastation among so many at the same time, mental health experts advise that we must take a moment to acknowledge our own pain. We need to not let our feelings go underground, but rather, become vulnerable and name the feelings we are experiencing.  Psychologists around the country, find when there is communal grief, some experience such a pile-up of losses that it is hard to identify and articulate all that is missing. Not only are they feeling their own loss and grief, but it escalates when one identifies with the loss and grief of others.   

Another superpower to get through these troubled times, is to be intentional about each positive step forward, to know that as much as our life has changed, some things never change, like the sun coming up each morning, seasons changing, and the earth staying on its axis. 

If we know how grief works, it gives us direction and permission to slow down, take care of ourselves, embrace a good cry (maybe daily), find what gives us joy, be with those that are supportive and kind, and recalibrate our new normal. 

Grief is undeniably brutal. It slows us down and sharpens our focus on what matters.  On the other side of sadness, there is a superpower of hope, strength, and resilience we did not even know that we had.