Our first remote TTJ meeting took place on April 13 as Michael Schaal, MSW, guided a discussion of how to manage grief as part of a transition process.
In this important conversation, participants were able to share experiences and express concerns about our current times and how we might transition to a new way of being.
Michael opened with a brief commentary on grief itself, which is often a lonely process. What COVID-19 has brought our world is a collective grieving experience. Members of the group took turns sharing feelings and observations that evening. Here is a sampling:
Feeling frustration, anger that an old, dear friend has tested positive. Feeling helpless.
All situations are compounded by the inability to get close to one another; normally we’d offer a hug to someone who’s hurting. The virus prevents such physically contact.
We are disappointed, even angry, to see that inequality has been a factor in this pandemic, as with everything else. Different infection rates, variable care, depending on one’s race and socio-economic status.
Some folks can’t work. Others must work under dangerous conditions. Pay for many “essential” workers is low. Above all, many of us witness incompetent leadership, which exacerbates the problems COVID-19 has caused.
Fear and sadness. Anticipating that our culture won’t learn the lessons this crisis has to teach us, which we might, if we’d leverage this moment and make lasting changes.
What behavior do we model for children, who have less perspective / fewer expectations?
Amidst the sorrow, how to create expectations that are positive for youth’s sake?
Environmental injustice has led to social injustice. We might respond by carving out a lifestyle that honors nature, ignoring what the mainstream makes of this. “If I do not tell a new story, I cannot truly live.”
Treat every moment as sacred.
We grieve at how we may have contributed to bringing about this plague. How do we decide what to save of our old ways and what to leave behind?
How can we contribute to the well-being of others and renew our own hope?
We want to help those in dire situations but don’t know how.
To stay sane, we must ration news consumption.
We have lost our old routines. We are seeing changes in family relations.
How to create a future we feel good about, after witnessing such widespread helplessness?
What will we say in the future about the pandemic?
Are we too hopeful or in denial as we look toward the future after a vaccine?
Will we go back to sleep, being manipulated by media?
In future years let us be sure to remember and discuss, for example, how we could see the mountains without all the smog. Can we be more aware of how our economy relies on low-wage earners to do the tasks the rest of us won’t? Can we work to address the pollution and inequality we see now once this pandemic is over?
How to bring intention to the way we live, now and then?
The gift of this pandemic is people talking to neighbors for the first time after decades. Cooking at home. Eating better. Exercising more. Shopping locally. Strengthening our local community.
The stillness reminded one participant of her own personal meditations. Society has slowed down and become more introspective, perhaps more healthy, aware, and whole.
What if we could be open to a “hospice” view of life: preserving dignity?
Let’s take this unique time to re-connect with ourselves, our partners and families, nature, humanity. And work to carry those connections forward.