The Huddle #56: Stand In Awe
Alright, I’m just going to say it. Sh*t’s heavy. This past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own grief and prepared this week’s huddle before the recent devastating events unfolded. I’m at a loss for words, and all I know for certain is that there is so much that I do not know. My heart aches for those who are suffering, and I pray for communities who have suffered injustice for far too long.
For folks who are interested, this week’s huddle is below. This is by no means meant to be a commentary, but an ongoing personal dialogue.
The pain is acute. The world is on fire. And yet, we have to keep going.
In my classes this weekend, I’ve shared how my thoughts on grief have changed since first entering quarantine. After suffering a loss, I began looking at people posting on social media about grieving our pre-quarantine habits, patterns, and stomping grounds and thinking to myself, “ That’s not real grief! My grief is bigger than your grief!” Enter: self-pity, comparison, and judgment.
Now, on day 597 of quarantine, I’m looking around and seeing loss everywhere. It’s in the air. It’s in the news. It’s on our shoulders and under our skin. It’s here.
To grieve, by definition, means “To bear a burden.” With that in mind, it turns out those folks I hated on at the start of quarantine were right - we are all bearing the burden of loss, both individually, and as a collective.
If we think of grief like a stone, we know that we can break it apart to reveal lots of pebbles and particles. For those of us who have been feeling the weight of big rocks, like the loss of a loved one, or the collective loss of George Floyd, we might notice that within that grief there are dozens of mini-griefs. Some of them are the things we’re not yet ready to say goodbye to, like the loss of a future we had planned. And then there are the mini-griefs that might be easier to say goodbye to, but if we’re careful we might miss them. In grieving the death of my mother, I’m saying goodbye to the fantasy that everything would turn out just fine. I’m also grieving the fear and anxiety that accompanied me while she was sick- and this is a process. I never thought I would actually grieve my fear, but it had been with me for so long, we had become intertwined.
At any given moment, some of us have entire boulders to carry, while others have pebbles in our shoes. Standing in line outside of Trader Joe’s or walking down the street, it's easy to look past each other’s pain. But what if we looked closer? That hunch in your elderly neighbor's posture, the way your friend looks at you when you ask how they’re doing post-breakup- we have all lost something.
Pema Chodron encourages us to seek a compassion that “Stands in awe of what our neighbors have to carry, rather than in judgment of how they carry it.” In the current chaos, I’m keeping this little nugget on my heart.
My invitation to you is to ask yourself what grief you’ve been carrying, and how you can lighten the load. And then, could join me in asking the bigger question: What are my neighbors carrying, and how can I help lighten the load?
No, I’m not going to find the silver lining, or try to see the good in a situation that is lacking goodness. What I’m going to do is the work - the internal work - of lightening the load, bit by bit. I am going to do is stand in awe of what you have to carry - and see if I can chip away at that, too.