The political news this week has been contentious, and I fear for my clients and other people who are in their own pain.
You may be facing the end of someone’s life (maybe your own). Or grieving a death or other significant loss. Or suffering from having your caring heart gut-punched by compassion fatigue.
When so many people are focused on the news – and especially when people are in bad moods because of it – you may not be able to get help from your friends or other people close to you.
I’m reminded of a time, long ago, when I was in deep grief while all eyes in the nation were on news events. Not governmental events, but political none the less.
It was April of 1995 and an aunt who I loved very much died. Her death occurred the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing, in which at least 168 people were killed and at least 680 others injured.
I remember thinking that I might feel comforted by attending a Sunday church service, since that had been important to my aunt. A woman at the door asked if I was a newcomer, then attached herself to me. But when she saw me crying during the service, she didn’t think to ask why. Instead, she spoke what was on everyone else’s mind: “Do you know someone who died in the bombing?”
And I felt that my grief for my relative was nothing compared to the nation’s grief for all who died in the bombing.
Right now, many Americans are expecting the loss of many rights they’ve had for most of their adult lives, or had hoped to enjoy as our society has been inching toward equal rights for all. People are experiencing fear and deep grief in the anticipation of those losses. They are trying to cope with these changes, perhaps even despairing for themselves, their children, the integrity of their families and communities.
In the face of all that coping and that grief, where is there room for an individual’s or a family’s sense of loss as they approach the end of a life? Where is there room for grief from a death, a career, or another significant change? Where is there room for self-care when dealing with compassion fatigue?
Where is there room for our private losses while so much of the nation mourns the overarching losses?
These times are an extra burden during a time when you may already feel like you’re stretched to breaking. Please reach out for care. To the people in your everyday life, and to professionals like myself.
Your pain matters and you deserve to find ways to get through it. This may even turn into one of those pivot points in life when a difficult time shows you a new way of living in the world. (Which may turn out to be exactly what we need right now.)
Please. Do not despair. Decide to take care of yourself and reach out for help. Make room for your own needs and then, when you are ready, you will be able to face the rest of the world.
Photo: Oklahoma City, OK, April 26, 1995 -- A scene of the devastated Murrah Building following the Oklahoma City bombing. FEMA News Photo [public domain]