Strangers Yelling on the Internet
It’s no secret that social media isn’t a pleasant place to be these days. It takes less than one minute of scrolling your feed to encounter arguments and insults being thrown. I used to be active on Instagram with a large following, but made the choice to step away from it a couple of years ago. It started to feel like being in a room with hundreds of people yelling over each other unintelligibly—not my idea of a good time!
And the pandemic isn’t our only stressor, of course. There’s the ongoing violence—wars, murder, mass shootings… the damage being done to our environment… the political polarization within communities and families… The list of things to be stressed and angry about goes on and on. And the stress and the anger is where most of us naturally tend to focus.
The Toll of Unacknowledged Collective Grief
But what is under all that frustration, anxiety, and depression?
It’s a whole well of unacknowledged and unprocessed grief. Sadness.
How does it feel in your body to read those words—that underlying all the collective chaos and conflict surrounding us daily is actually a deep well of grief, waiting to be acknowledged?
For me it feels grounding. I feel the energy in my body drop down low into my root chakra like a stabilizing stone. Heavy with truth.
We, as a collective, are in need of deep grief work. Grief for the state of the world, the seemingly endless hurts and injustices happening everyday, and the fact that so much of it is completely out of our control. And these grieving parts of us need to be acknowledged and intentionally given space and expression.
But it’s difficult to learn how to grieve in a culture that ignores and fears grief. We are not a grief literate society, we are a grief phobic society. And to take that a step further, we are an emotion phobic society. We are afraid to feel, and this fear leads to an ignorance regarding how to handle intense, painful emotions. It leaves us with zero skills.
Cutting Through the Fear
In order to learn how to grieve, we first have to challenge the belief that emotional pain is dangerous. No matter how painful or intense our emotions may be, they are not a danger to us. The actions we take in response to our emotions can be dangerous, but the emotions themselves are simply waves of energy moving through our body. Waves that wash through us and can learn to be ridden to the other side.
When we avoid feeling our grief—or don’t recognize our grief for what it is—our grief doesn’t go away, it comes out in other, often destructive and harmful, ways. For instance, instead of sitting down and having a good cry, we might yell at our child instead.
Playing Our Part By Taking Care of Ourselves
There are many things out in the world that we have no control over, but we aren’t helpless. There is actually a lot we can do by turning our focus back on ourselves, and making sure that we are well taken care of; that our immediate circle—friends and family—is well taken care of; and by focusing on the needs of the community directly around us.
Choosing to put ourselves first is not selfish. We cannot be help to anyone, we cannot make any kind of difference out in the world, if we aren’t taking care of ourselves first. And a part of taking care of ourselves is learning how to make space for our grief.
How to Make Space For Grief: Ritualize It
Want to make a difference in the world? Set aside time everyday to feel your grief.
It doesn’t take much; it can be as little as 5 minutes. The important part is intentionally setting aside time for it. This sends the message to our system that our grief, our emotions, are important and worthy of our undivided attention. When we build a ritual around something we make it sacred.
And you don’t have to be going through a big personal loss to set aside this time. We are all carrying grief in some form. Some days you might actually cry, some days you won’t. Whatever comes up is OK, whatever doesn’t come up is also OK. Being curious about what's happening inside of you is the important part. Don’t go in with any expectations, and let go of any “shoulds.”
Simple, Everyday Grief Rituals
When we hear the world “ritual” it might bring to mind images of elaborate religious ceremonies, but a ritual can actually be incredibly simple. The purpose of a ritual is to create a sacred container. As such, a ritual needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Creating a clear beginning and a clear end that we repeat each time we do the ritual is what creates the container. What happens within the container should be spontaneous, creative, and will look different each time.
Examples of simple daily grief rituals:
- Getting out your meditation cushion (the beginning), sitting on it, feeling into your body and checking in with your grief for 5 minutes, and then putting away the cushion when you are done (the end).
- Choosing a certain time of day to set an alarm for 10 minutes (the beginning), get out a special stone, object, or a picture of a loved one, to hold in your hands while you sit and feel into your grief until the alarm goes off (the end).
- Setting up a special grief altar that you sit at daily for a certain amount of time, being sure to intentionally create a beginning and a closing to your ritual.
The best way we can make a difference in the world “out there,” is by tending to the world inside.
Looking for an Online Therapist in Kansas?
Do you need a safe, supportive place to grieve? Do you want to heal your relationship with your emotions or your body?
My Lawrence, Kansas counseling practice specializes in providing grief and bereavement counseling, along with therapy for highly sensitive adults, therapy for self-esteem, therapy for anxiety, and therapy for codependency.
Through counseling I help people overcome shame and the fear of being their true selves. Breaking the cycles of people-pleasing and self-abandonment is possible, and I'm here to help. I offer online therapy throughout the state of Kansas.
Reach out today to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation, I'd love to hear from you!
Other Services Offered by Maggie
In addition to providing online therapy anywhere in Kansas, I’m also a professional astrologer, and offer Birth Chart Readings anywhere in the United States, as well as abroad.
Astrology is a powerful tool for gaining self-awareness, finding meaning in and understanding of our difficult experiences, and for receiving validation regarding our own unique life path. All of which supports our mental health in a positive way!
Interested in getting a Natal Chart Reading? Book a free phone consultation and let’s get started!