Many see the current global situation as frightening and want to return to the past. Others look to the future with anxiety and foreboding. The general public in our country and all over the world is experiencing and in many cases is paralyzed by these thoughts and feelings: anger, fear, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, vulnerability, an existential crisis of meaning. Anger manifests in the form of war, increased racism and hate crimes, and the reliance on drugs and alcohol to ease the pain.
I believe that the turmoil that we all are witnessing and experiencing in the world is a grieving process. These thoughts and feelings are a manifestations of grief, and have been building and building to this present day. This is not hopeless, although at times, it may feel hopeless.
The origins of this grief are in our recent collective memories: the loss of manufacturing jobs, the demise of the small family farm, continuing racism against all minorities, wars, climate change, the opioid epidemic. Many losses go back even farther to the beginnings of our country including the genocide of Native Americans, slavery, the subjugation of women.
Current articles describe the pain of widespread grief, but do not necessarily address grief’s transformational power. Grief is our natural human response to loss. It is painful, sometimes horrible and traumatizing. Yet it helps us to recognize and identify our loss, experience the pain of our loss, incorporate the loss into our lives, and then move forward into the future – changed.
We, as a world, seem to be stuck in the pain of grief. People in positions of power exploit our pain to hold on to their power, by “channeling” our anger and fear for their own purposes, or by denying or minimizing our losses and grief. It is time for us to recognize our global grief and move through it individually and collectively – changed and renewed.
Please see my article about this. https://email@example.com/global-grief-2c2736ce464b
I will post ideas from my article here, but also hope that you will read my article in its entirety.
The Ukrainians are fighting a war with limited military capability - a war they did not start. Their lives are in turmoil as they experience traumatic loss all around them - loss of life, loss of their homes, loss of security. Yet they move forward with hope - fighting against the odds, singing their national anthem, making Molotov cocktails, acting courageously in a dire time, not giving up.
What can we do to help, and to honor them? We can be informed about what is happening as a responsibility. We can accept that what happens in Ukraine will have repercussions all over the world, including taking care of Ukrainian refugees, and experiencing the global fallout from financial sanctions against Russia.
On a day to day basis, we can be kind to one another, patient with one another, accepting of one another, as a way to spread brotherhood and sisterhood on our shores. The pandemic has taught us that we are all in this together. War teaches us that lesson too.
We can learn a sense of humility. Wars in countries that are not like "us" or aren't modern like "us" don't hit home the way this war has. Think of the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Africa. Yet we are all the same.
The national flower of Ukraine is the sunflower. We can plant or buy sunflowers as a way to remember. In our apartment, we have a banner of a sunflower in our window. This helps us to remember, and to express our solidarity with Ukraine, and to peoples all over the world who are experiencing the trauma of war.
"Spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, says, 'Everything natural - every flower, tree and animal - has important lessons to teach us if we only stop, look and listen.' (Guardians of Being: Teachings from our Dogs and Cats, Novato, Ca., New World Library, 2009). Nature has a way of giving us messages. You can silently ask the question, 'What can I learn from you? What message is here for me?'
Being in the presence of tall majestic trees can give you a sense of safety.
Seeing a sapling can give you hope.
Seeing colorful flowers, from the common dandelion to the majestic rose, can give you the feeling of mutual love and oneness.
Gazing at the sky can give you a feeling of freedom.
Inhaling crisp morning air can give you enthusiasm and energy.
Seeing the stars at night can make you quiet and humble.
Watching a flower bloom on your stubborn houseplant can give you joy.
On a day when you can't get moving, seeing and hearing busy birds outside your window can get you on your way.
Nature is a great sage.
From Harnessing the Power of Grief, page 71
I have a new website for my book, Harnessing the Power of Grief.
“Exercise is good for every organ of your body, including your brain. Your thoughts originate in the brain, and from these thoughts come emotions….When you are in distress, exercise may be beneficial. Swimming can be both an aerobic exercise and therapeutic at the same time. Water can have a calming effect on your body and mind. If you like exercise, try mixing it up. If you exercise at a gym instead go outside for a walk or a run. At the end of your outdoor or indoor exercise, consciously slow down and appreciate your inner state.”
-Harnessing the Power of Grief, page 71.