Grief & Trauma Work & Systems of Oppression

Today I’m grateful for the little bits of birdsong that are beginning in my region. Yesterday it snowed here (which is a bit rare on the West Coast) but there are so many other signs of spring all around us. 

Dear ones, most of you are gathered here in this community as a kind of “clan of the broken-hearted…” and as my teacher, Francis Weller, says so beautifully, “So much depends upon a broken heart,”  (because it gets us feeling again in a numb world!) 

I believe that one of the things that is causing so much damage in the world is our collective compulsion to try override this and rush “through” our grief – as though there was a way to “get rid of it”…as though there is something wrong with feeling. 

If you’ve been on a journey with grief for a while, I’m curious, how many of these things have you heard along the way?

“Just get over it already” …
“Simply move on with your life” …
“Get back to work or the way life was before” …

Or maybe you’ve felt pressure to downplay how you’re feeling because “others have had it worse.”

In over 20 years of experience, I have yet to see someone heal by being told to “get over it.” 

And in fact, the truth is, the more of us who are allowing ourselves the space & support to grieve when we need to, the easier it is for others who need to do the same. 

What research on grief teachers us is that feelings of depression, numbness, burnout, overwhelm, mood swings and changing emotions are EXPECTED responses to unprocessed grief.

And rushing to ‘move on with your life’s can inflict further pain and keep that despair trapped.

You need and DESERVE a space to fully grieve. It’s not just okay, but essential, to give space to your grief – because as Jamie Anderson said: “Grief is just love with no place to go.”⁠

So, if LOVE was a part of your grief experience, what might grieving look like?⁠⁠

Instead of “just get over it already”…⁠⁠

It might be “take as long as you need. I’m here for you.”⁠⁠

Instead of “simply move on with your life”…⁠⁠

It might be “your life will be forever transformed by this experience of loss/heartache. Lean in to the transformation with support. Here are some places where you might find that…”⁠⁠

Instead of “get back to work or the way life was before”…⁠⁠

It might be “how can I support you to take time off? Can I look after your kids? Make you a meal? Book you a house cleaner, or massage appointment?”

⁠⁠When we’re supported on this grief journey with the right skills and community, it is entirely transformational. 

It is impossible to NOT emerge as better, more whole human beings.⁠💛🖤💛