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The Dance of Grief and Joy

Two women talkingMAUDE: On a zoom call yesterday, a woman shared her feelings of grief. I realized it is an aspect of coping with this time in all our lives, that we haven’t yet blogged about. She was experiencing the loss of a loved one and shared with us how she was coping with this by being present with all her feelings including her grief. She described her grief over the death she had experienced, as well as the loss of touch and other meaningful aspects of her life, the upset with the dire political situation and her grief over the terrible destruction of the environment (even though we seem to have a temporary improvement in that area – wouldn’t it be great if it weren’t temporary!).

I was deeply affected by this intimate sharing and could relate to her grief as well as her allowing herself to feel it.

In order to be honest and present in all our relationships, it is important for us to be in touch with our feelings and to allow them presence, to be present with them. I am not referring to wallowing in challenge and difficulty, but rather to acknowledging the sadness, the grief we feel at loss within our lives and relationships, while at the same time seeing clearly the joy and the beauty around us. They can both coexist. They do in most of us. The more we truly feel what is, the more we can be present and available to others.

This is a time of heightened awareness of all our connections. There is an added appreciation of each other that has come from the very fact of being distanced physically, coupled with the potential of loss of those succumbing to this virus, now or in the future. As is often the case, it can take not having something to realize how important it is to us.

We can be grateful for all we have, and even all the new additions to life (like the many zoom meetings now available), and still acknowledge our sense of loss for so many of the big and little things of our lives that are now gone. By really sitting with all of what we are feeling, and sharing these realities within our relationships, we can experience a deeper richness of what is, of the present we are in.

PHIL: I have been an environmentalist since reading the Club of Rome report in 1972 and am becoming increasingly distraught over global warming, but reading Facing Extinction by Catherine Ingram has been the biggest blow yet. After a long exposition of the many woes we face, she writes about anticipatory grief, a phrase that accurately captured my sense of melancholy and loss.

And now we have a pandemic with one-third of a million deaths to grieve, an upturned society and an uncertain future. Four things you can do to cope with such upheavals:

  • Mourn
    There are people and places we will never see again.
  • Take Action
    Whether it’s writing to your representative, organizing your closet or calling your friends, taking action to alleviate the situation feels good and does good.
  • Change Your Timescale
    How will the planet look in a thousand years time? How will humans be in 2120? How will we be living with the virus 5 years hence? Just as a time-lapse video or a high-speed film camera makes the subject look radically different, so does changing the timescale by which we view a situation.
  • Be Present
    The sun still shines. Licorice still tastes good (to some people!) Clean sheets feel and smell delicious.

We usually write more directly about relationships, but this week, the balance of grief and joy demanded attention. Use it as a way to center yourself, and if you are in a relationship, be present and balanced for your partner.

Photo credit: Temogen Amato

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfIn this week's blog, we wrote about the dance of grief and joy we are all experiencing. Here are some other articles exploring other aspects of this.

That uncomfortable coronavirus feeling: It could be grief "Maybe you're among the most fortunate in the coronavirus crisis -- your loved ones are healthy and you're sheltering at home. Yet you still feel emotionally bulldozed by the pandemic. Those feelings of uncertainty, helplessness and exhaustion may be grief.... But grief can come from the loss of anything we're attached to deeply: the loss of economic stability, the loss of our ability to move around freely, the ability to participate in life's milestones in person."

Coronavirus Has Upended Our World. It's OK To Grieve "The coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe has not only left many anxious about life and death issues, it's also left people struggling with a host of less obvious, existential losses as they heed stay-home warnings and wonder how bad all of this is going to get. To weather these uncertain times, it's important to acknowledge and grieve lost routines, social connections, family structures and our sense of security — and then create new ways to move forward — says interfaith chaplain and trauma counselor, Terri Daniel."

Balancing Grief and Joy in a Time of Uncertainty "'Grief is love that has nowhere to go.' Buddhist teacher Roshi Joan Halifax took our breaths away with truth as she shared this bit of wisdom she learned from one of her students in an Irresistible podcast episode titled, 'Grief in a time of not knowing.' For the past month and a half, I’ve been contemplating the role of collective grief in this global crisis with hesitant curiosity"


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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