Grief and the magic trick of peripheral vision

I write. a lot. I used to share almost all of them. But not of late. How many sad things can you write about before your friends stage an intervention? Or just stop reading?

It happened again today. But at work. All the things are that are just below the surface threatened to bubble over the top. We hosted a webinar on combatting compassion fatigue. Our expert shared how that stems from guess what… grief. I had previewed her presentation and was super excited because of course, all this to pertained to other people, not me.

Most of our participants in the webinar were first responders and first liners but also people just doing the best they could to care for elderly parents or their children. But the speaker had started to break through my armor during our pre-webinar check-in. I knew I was pretty run down but I thought I could hold it together pretty easy since it was a zoom meeting. Just turn off the video and audio, right? Just pretend like you don’t feel sadness for yet something else.

But this was a week where all those things that you don’t want to cause sadness were just ridiculously pervasive. Driving over the 364 bridge every day and being drawn to the road sign that says Ali’s name. The highschool parent group dropping off a senior 2020 yard sign. The stupid loss of normalcy. Haven’t I always touted the need to be abnormal? Grief for our business owners experiencing economic loss. Loss of yet another piece of my health. Loss of clarity. Erosion of social support. Constantly re-living or re-experiencing previous losses. Grief for the elderly seemingly dismissed as a casualty of war. The knowledge that I should probably anticipate more grief. What is still to come in the next 12-18 months that I will have to let go. My inner Charlie Brown is full-blown.

As we wrapped up the zoom webinar on grief and compassion fatigue the chatbox began to fill with first responders lamenting their loss of not being able to embrace clients. First-line providers sharing the guilt they have not being able to care for everyone the way they want to. Mothers sharing tremendously difficult parenting situations. As I tried to draw the webinar to a close my voice was rough around the edges, I fought to push down the tears and grief. My own but so much more of others.

I haven’t had a lot of positive control over the past seven days or so. I don’t have a good handle on just about anything in my life and by handle I mean my control-freak self doesn’t have a hand on the wheel at all. I have experienced the physical pain of taking into too much of the world’s pain right now. But I was reminded today that I can control my levels of compassion. And I am not sure there is too much of that in the world right now.

Today I heard “emotions need motions.” To keep pushing them down is just setting them up for explosion rather than allowing a natural flow. We feel it and we keep going. All the things I have written in the last several months about grief. They are probably going to start peeking their heads out a bit more. Because do you know what our new normal is? COVID-19 or not? Accepting that our lives before November 2019 have run their course. We are experiencing a communal loss. Grief causes us to recalibrate. We get to find a fresh point of reference. We get to try out the magic trick of peripheral vision. Looking back as we continue to look forward. grief-2584778_1920



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