We’re in troubled times (to say it simply). A pandemic has swept the globe, isolation is necessary to survive + support the most vulnerable, plus our economy is gasping for air. It’s very scary and sad.
Within this pandemic, we’re all feeling personal loss. Loss of a job, a person, a way of life, the inability to gather with our friends and family for a funeral or graduation, uncertainty about our children’s future.
At the same time, the news is full of stories of mass graves, countries suffering from lack of resources, and an overall feeling that we’re a confused species, a scared species, a hurting species. We’ve been hit by this virus which has exposed the vulnerabilities our system has created.
In other words, our personal sorrows are colliding with our larger, collective grief (and anxiety). The truth is, they’ve always been interweaving. Now, we can’t consciously separate the two.
To put it bluntly, this is overwhelming. Overwhelming our psyches. Our systems. And, our technology.
While I, personally, believe personal grief always brings us to the collective sorrow (and vice versa), I also know this is usually a prolonged process. Something we experience with time and support. Meaning, when we’ve received care and attention for the personal, specific loss we’ve experienced, we can then turn our attention towards the communal losses that are occurring (ecocide, species extinction, inequality). Or, we start to see the suffering and harm that’s happening on our planet. We find people and places that can validate and hold what we’re experiencing, and then we recognize how much grief is contained in our collective experience, as well as our individual losses.
I think a lot about how much we’ve changed as a species and planet in the last 100 or 200 years (let alone the last 12,000 years). There’s so much we’re exposed to now that most human’s in history would never have imagined. On-demand electricity, daily global travel, 24/7 worldwide news. Sometimes I think our psyches just aren’t conditioned to metabolize the enormity of what’s happening both individually and collectively.
But here we are, in 2020, with a global pandemic that’s effecting us all, and lives that continue to contain loss and beauty. It seems, these times, which are troubled and uncertain, are also connecting us, bringing us back to reality. A reality that says life on this planet is finite and precious, and death and grief are requisites for being here.
While our individual psyches may not be conditioned for this, perhaps our collective strength and support can help us hold it all. Really, our coming together, is our only hope. This is true when we lose someone we love, and it’s true when we’re faced with a global trauma and reckoning.
So, as my mentor, Francis Weller, would say: This is an invitation to immensity. A call to become greater than who we’ve been, both individually and collectively. A call to connect with something bigger than ourselves—our communities, our souls, nature. And I, for one, want to accept the invitation with grace and extend it to anyone who wants to join. I hope we get to tend this threshold together, side by side (with a mask on + at least six feet apart, of course).