On Collective Trauma, Grief and Emotional Recovery
Updated: Feb 14
The people of the world have been going through so much pain over the last few years with the pandemic, war and really ugly national politics. These past two weeks, between Buffalo and now Uvalde, have hit already raw nerves. People are speaking up, angry, fighting back, promising to vote, protest and call their senators and this is a good thing. We should fight and we should feel angry, but today I want to talk about how to take care of yourself so that you can be there for your loved ones and fight the good fight.
What we are going through is collective trauma and the grief that comes from that. We feel hopeless and full of despair. These are all valid responses. Please don't try to tamp it down and go about your day, business as usual. This can lead to long term physical, emotional and mental issues. Yet at the same time, we still have responsibilities from children to family to pets to jobs and, most importantly, ourselves, and can't just get lost in the dark cloud of sadness. So, how do we feel and still function? I am going to share how to manage these feelings in healthy ways that you can do alone or with loved ones for mutual support.
I want to reiterate that I am not encouraging anyone to move on quickly from these emotions. I just want to share the tools that I am using so as to not get swept away by wave after wave of sadness and despondency. These tools can help w/ personal loss and grief, as well.
The first step that I would encourage for you to do every morning, before even getting out of bed, is grounding. This is the first and most imperative tool as it is the basis for your stability, your ability to feel connection to the world and what helps you keep a calmer mindset. I personally do a grounding meditation every day, but you can ground with visualization, breathing and embodiment exercises. Picture yourself growing roots down into the earth and feel yourself becoming one with it. If you can't achieve this feeling in bed, then maybe have your morning coffee outdoors, feeling the earth (or flooring) beneath your feet, closing your eyes and listening to the sounds of the natural world. In doing these things, you will start your day from a place of mental and emotional stability. You will have a fortitude that you may not have otherwise. A sense of calm and internal strength.
Once you feel that you have gravity holding you safely and securely, I would like to share the next tool that I use when the rush of grief or sadness hits me. Again, I first and foremost let myself feel it. I want to honor the lost souls and the pain that the populace is experiencing, as well as my own. After a bit, though, I feel the weight of it all start to pull me under and know that I have to release the pain for now. This is where I turn to cleansing.
There are so many methods to cleanse away energy or emotions that you are wanting to release, but I'll just share a few here. Actually swimming, bathing or showering are literal ways to cleanse your energy and emotions - as the water washes over you, picture the sadness, pain or negative energy flowing off with it and know that it is going down the drain, no longer a part of you. You can visualize this, as well. Imagine standing under a waterfall or the golden, healing light of the sun as they, too, take darkness you are feeling with them as they roll over you. There are many other ways to cleanse, of course, so if you already have this tool, then use whatever works best for you - but do use it.
As a reiki practitioner, I have to use these tools daily because I cannot be there for my clients in a stable and safe way if I'm not myself grounded, cleansed and shielded. This also applies to those with families, job, animals that rely on them. You must take care of yourself first if you are going to be able to help the world around you.
- Ground yourself so you feel stable and strong.
- Allow yourself to feel the grief and sadness, don't bottle it in.
- Cleanse yourself to release the grief once you've had your time with it.