Collective grief may be showing us the way to healthy grieving

Many of us in the United States (and probably far beyond) are looking back at all the losses we experienced in earlier years. And finding ourselves nearly overwhelmed with grief.

Not the kind of grief that comes from the death of a loved one, the loss of a career, or the need to leave a beloved home.

This is the sadness that arises when we face – really face – what we’ve lost by being girls and women in this society. Having to limit our lives to stay safe. Knowing that we had no say in the laws of that land. And the very real experiences of various kinds of assault of the body, mind, and soul.

At the time these things happened, we didn’t tell anyone. Or we whispered it to our best friend over the phone then sat in silence, perhaps having no words to describe our feelings. And certainly no power to have perpetrators brought to justice.

As we allow these memories to come flooding back – or if that happens unasked while watching the news – we finally begin to feel the feelings that we suppressed back then. Suppressed, because there was no outlet for them, so to let them out might be met with scorn, disbelief, or even shunning.

This awakening is painful and can be quite scary.

At the same time, the tsunami of posts by both women and men are now giving us courage to reach back into our memories, call the experiences what they really were, share our truth with others, and finally begin to experience the healing of grieving.

What’s happening right now in the US is grief. It’s lifetimes of pain being spoken and echoed out into a world that hasn’t wanted to listen.
– Megan Devine, Sept. 28, 2018

What’s more, we are grieving together. By sharing our stories in safe forums, and in reading, listening, viewing the stories of others, we are participating in gigantic grief support groups. On social media, via texts, over the phone, and in person. We are gathering with our tribes, acknowledging each other’s experiences, and caring for each other as we grieve.

I would never wish these experiences on anyone. And at the same time, I’m encouraged to see that we are doing grief well: together.

May you have the care and support you need to do this work.


P.S. To the man who stepped in today at PetFest to question, educate, and then subtly physically sequester the man who was verbally assaulting me: Please know that my gratitude goes far deeper than my clumsy, adrenaline-limited words. Thank you for acting from your core values. Your family, friends, and community are enriched by your presence among us.

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