We are all grieving these days. Not just a singled loss, but a multitude of losses both big and small. We grieve for the fast food we can’t eat right now and the hair cut we wish we could get. We grieve for the graduations canceled and the weddings made small, for trips that are no longer possible. We grieve for the separation from loved ones and separation from the lives we used to have. We grieve the future which has diverted so far from what we expected and is shrouded in a fog of uncertainty.
All of these griefs, and more, overlap and collide in my head to the point where I wish my thoughts would hold still just for a moment. Somehow it feels that if they would hold still, I could see all the griefs and work through them efficiently. That isn’t possible of course. Grief by its very nature is slippery and sloppy. It spills out of containment and colors things it wasn’t connected to before the spill.
In my presentation Structuring Life to Support Creativity I have a section where I talk about creative processes. Any creative process you have will impact any other creative process. Raising children is hugely creative work, which is why it can wreak havoc on other creative pursuits A day job which requires creative effort will make maintaining a creative avocation more difficult. Grief is a creative process. It is the means by which we adapt and change ourselves and our lives. It deconstructs what we used to have and gives us pieces to create ourselves anew. The larger the grief, the more transformed we must become in order to pass through it. I can’t curl myself tight and move through quickly or efficiently. Instead I have to be open to the feeling of it. I have to cry and rage and despair. I have to let it permeate who I am and slop over into places I’m not sure it belongs. In this process the grief becomes part of the fabric of who I am and I carry it with me as I move forward.
At the beginning of this year, I found an image to carry with me (or perhaps to carry me.) It was a cloak of peace and joy. Now I think that grief also needs to be woven into this cloak. Thus the cloak becomes a way for me to carry that grief and acknowlege it while still leaving my hands free to do important work. By carrying my grief with intertwined with peace and joy, everything works together to shield me against anxiety and fear while I transform. Over time painful grief becomes wistfulness and remembrance of what might have been. Also I remind myself how all of the hardest parts of last year were directly causative to the brightest joys of the year. This grief-causing difficulty is source for future joy I can’t see yet.
At least that is the story I tell myself this morning as I try to let go of the way life used to be and accept the realities of living in a pandemic. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll need a different image and a different story. That’s okay too.