Until we recognize our state of grief due to loss, we just keep on keeping on. And then there’s no room for self-compassion. No room for finding a gentler way of being – with ourselves and others.
You might not have felt the loss, but life on this planet veered this week. News of Coronavirus spreading around the world has caused panic. The stock market took a huge plunge. What’s been left in the wake? Chaos. Loss of millions.
Our first U.S. citizen was diagnosed with Coronavirus. Now we realize that the belief it’s-only-over-there in Asia is false.
This Friday evening, I heard that someone here in Portland, OR was hospitalized. We won’t know if they have the virus until test results come in from the Centers for Disease Control.
Many of us find ourselves in fear as we hear about the losses of others. As it draws closer to home, we realize our own potential loss. Loss of safety, money, health, and freedom to travel and gather.
This is Secondary Loss. It hasn’t happened to us directly – yet.
What’s the cost of being frozen in Secondary Grief?
Back in 1995, I remember awaking late one January morning and found I was paralyzed. Literally. I couldn’t move my body to get out of bed. I could hear Edward and the boys making breakfast downstairs. The sounds and smells wafted up reminding me it was time to get up and take over my duties.
But I was stuck in bed. My body frozen. I felt terrified as I had no idea what had happened.
I now know that I was paralyzed due to unrecognized grief.
You see, my brother, Mark, had died by voluntary suicide just 6 months previously. Mark and I would never grow old together. I had cried and cried.
Then I decided I’d cried enough, and it was time to keep moving on. So, I took on the role of grief comforter for my shattered mother, my son Reed, and Mark’s friends and family.
But I had failed to do my own grief work. And I didn’t recognize my stuffed grief.
Grief will out
A few months later, while attending church, tears began falling. I cried throughout the day and wondered what was wrong with me. Finally, depression came crashing down like a dark window shade. For the next four months I could only do the minimum.
What brought me through this grief period were: nature, longer times reading uplifting books, and much, much time in prayer. I began to do the inner work of grieving.
We must recognize our grief
Just yesterday someone reached out to me and said, “As I went through your website, I realized that I’m in grief. I haven’t had someone close die, but I’m in a relationship breakup.”
Until we recognize our state of global and personal grief due to loss, we will, as I did decades ago, just keep on.
What’s the cost? I can tell you. Being forced by your body to live in the slow lane – for months or even years.
Do the Grief work
You deserve the freedom to live, and move, and feel better. So, let’s start now:
Take out your journal and favorite writing pen.
Settle into your chair or couch. Try the lotus position if possible.
Breathe in. (Deep inhale.)
Breathe out. (Cleansing exhale.) Exhale ALL the air from your lungs.
Again, breathe in through your nose. Notice the temperature of the air coming in.
Now breathe out. Notice the temperature of the air.
Mentally scan your body. Is there a place that’s tense, tight, quivering?
Focus your attention there.
Ask, “What am I feeling here”?
Remember that feeling…
Now begin a letter with “Dear Loss,”
Write in your journal what you’re feeling right now as a result of all your loss this week. (A lot of it wasn’t yours. It was secondary loss.)
Then ask the question, “What are you here to teach me?”
Let me know what you discovered. Use the reply button to share so we can all learn together, and I can better support you.
Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,
PS – Last week’s blog talked about, Which Grief is Yours? An audio clip from MindBody Radio was included that went into greater detail. I asked you to let me know which of the six “griefs” you were experiencing.
Of those who shared, most were experiencing Child Loss. I am surrounding each of you with a long, strong virtual hug as you breathe and recall loving memories of your beloved child.