Recognising Grief

Kiri Dell wrote a blog today about coming out of denial.  Her concluding words were “Embrace the suffering. Have a big cry if you need to. New life is on its way.”  Ae marika.  He tika tana.  Engari, I am not sure I have shifted the denial just yet.

These past few days I have been quick to anger.  I have three half-written blog rants about the state of the world, the economy, and our communities.  I have crafted a suggestion for facebook community page admins to turn on approvals so stop the violent and alarming panic that is capturing our communities.  I have ranted about the perpetuated capitalist hegemony in the government’s decision surrounding essential services.  I have flown the eco-warrior flag, whilst battling with climate grief/anxiety, in this time of economic crisis.  I believe there is much potential to overhaul our dominant economic paradigm as we come out of this pandemic, but it is all laced with the guilt (and subsequent anger) of privilege.  On top of all this, I have a toddler who is too young to understand what is going, but astute enough to know that something big has closed her kōhanga, the playground, and the neighbour’s gate.  Her tantrums have been epic.

My anger is a way of dealing with grief.  HBR interviewed grief expert David Kessler, who talks about the collective grief that is affecting many of us.  We have lost our sense of safety, control over our daily lives, and physical connections with loved ones—global anxiety levels are high right now.  Kessler says we need to recognise our feelings, accept what is, and then we can work out how to move forward.  For me that means accepting uncertainty, practicing gratitude instead of guilt, and ultimately ignoring those social media posts that fuel my angst.

Of course, this is an extremely privileged view.  I have a home, a family, and a job.  I have running water, hand sanitiser, and am healthy enough to go to the supermarket when and if I need.  Most of all, I have support for handling this grief.  And for all of this I am truly grateful.  If we truly want to #bekind, we need to practice awareness and empathy.  We need to use this situation as an opportunity to learn how to operate differently in order to rebuild our world into one that creates wellbeing for all.  Instead of anger, we need compassion.


Image credit: WHYFRAME/shuttershock

Berinato, S. (2020). That discomfort you’re feeling is grief. HBR.  

Dell, K. (2020). Have a big cry if you need to. Kupu Mamae: Words from mamae.

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