It is the beginning of another week, deeper into this “new normal” of social distancing and isolation. No doubt for many of you every day is beginning to blur together. It is possible that time is losing some of its meaning for you, because your daily routines have changed so drastically. Recently, as I reflected on the name of this blog “Touchpoint,” I realized how this pandemic has shifted the ways we “touch down” or, make contact with reality, and with ourselves. Without touchpoints, like a regular lunch date with a friend, a routine at your workplace, a daily ritual you have, we can sometimes feel like we are floating freely, without something to anchor us down. I know I have felt this way for sure. But this feeling is familiar as well, because it is the feeling of being in the midst of grief, of a life changing, upending, free-floating experience.
Last week in our Virtual Bereavement Support Group, we shared the myths and truths of grief. From these conversations, I can continue to make this claim about grief: Grief places you in another sphere of reality. A reality that is difficult for others to understand sometimes.
That is why the real work of processing your grief, is to take the painful plunge into touching back down into reality, of anchoring yourself to this world, and to reinvestment in your life. One myth we discussed last week is that ignoring this pain will make it go away. This is not true. However, grief is a dance of both intentional distraction and intentional reflection. We cannot stay in one of these dances for too long, we must dip in and out, touch down, test the waters. We use the touchpoints of this dance to anchor us gently and slowly back into a reality that feels safe.
I call this process “going into the pit.” When we experience a loss, a death, or a major life change, we can fear the unknown ahead. The fear can be discovering inside yourself the depths of your own feelings. The feelings are layered, and complicated, and sometimes they seem to argue with each other, and they are all so normal. But going down into this pit takes care, patience, and a kindness to yourself, and most importantly, it takes support. Processing your grief should never happen alone.
When you decide to go into this pit, to see how deep it goes, you need someone, or something, to pull you back out for moments of respite, when you cannot go any deeper. Those moments of respite can be incredibly therapeutic. Laughter and tears go together in the work of grief. It is not unusual to hear laughter at Hospice House, from our families, from our guests, our volunteers, and our support group attendees. When we find a way to step into the joy, the irony, the goofiness, we build courage to step into the despair and to face the challenge of discovering how deep that pit really goes.
What I can assure you is that this pit does have a floor. No, that does not mean the grief will go away. How the floor looks and feels will be very different for everyone. It may take you months or years to discover it, because this is slow and patient work. But in discovering the depths of your grief, in exploring the complex feelings; you will learn more about yourself. Your identity and anchor to this life will be strengthened.
The work of grief is not about finding a way to not feel the pain or to find a finish line to cross. It really is about helping you to take care of yourself, to stay here with us, to enjoy life down on the ground by engaging in this dance of joy and sadness, always, with support.
Let Hospice House & Support Care Williamsburg show you support by joining our Virtual Bereavement Support Group, through Zoom, every Tuesday at 2:00pm. Go to the website at the bottom of this message for more information. The group will last for one and half hours, and it is free and open to anyone. Our support is inclusive to all forms of grief, whether in the grief of death, or the grief of the loss of expectations and isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tomorrow, please bring a memory item, like a picture or object which has special meaning to you in your grief journey to share.
If you would like to schedule one-on-one support with me via Zoom, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Carlo LaFiandra, HHSCW volunteer