We all need a village at some point in our life. We all need community to get to the other side. I know this goes against our American worldview that dependency on others can be a positive thing. I also know finding supportive people can feel impossible in our incredibly isolated lives, but you are not alone.
In this part of the series, How To Cope With Grief, I want to explore the importance of community and support, essentially, a village on which to lean when things are hard.
Grieving is a process and takes time and emotional energy. Many times, we try to keep it to ourselves and keep silent about the intense feelings we are experiencing. The pain can feel like it fills all the spaces inside and threatens to burst through our well intentioned walls we built to hold it all in. However, as counter-intuitive or rather counter-cultural it may seem, one of the greatest ways to relieve the intensity of feelings is to share them with another person.
Before we dive too far into the discussion on grief, I want to invite you to consider the people in your life you feel are “safe” or “comforting” or “understanding.” If this is hard to imagine and no one is coming to mind, no problem! Think of someone you have felt to be kind and caring from a movie, a book, or a blog. Think of their voice, their eyes, the way they look at another person or at you with kindness and compassion. They get it. They understand. They care.
Did you find that person? Good! Spend some time thinking of them. Can you imagine their face? Can you see how their face changes when they look at you with love, compassion, empathy, and kindness? Notice their voice as they tell you, “It’s going to be all right.”
If they are someone you are in contact with, consider calling them, or, if it is safe to do so, schedule to meet up with them. If they are a character from a movie or book, write a letter to them. Let them know you are grieving. They do not have to do anything about it or try to make it better. (You might have to tell them this explicitly.) Just let them know, “Hey, I’m going through this thing right now, and I just want you to know that it is really hard.” Or it might be something like, “You don’t have to do anything about this or fix it, but I want you to know that I’m not OK right now.”
If you can’t think of someone to share this with, I get that. Maybe this exercise brought up pain and grief. Where ever you are in this process, I invite you to find community or make it for yourself. Many people find therapy to be helpful, a safe time and space to share the experience of grief. Consider calling a licensed therapist for support. If you feel like you can sit in a group, consider finding an online grief group to participate in weekly.
Below are some places to start your search for your village. Please reach out. Remember, you are not alone. It might take some time and some work, but I believe you can find someone to journey with through this grief.
Places to start the search for your own village, your own support network:
Author: Lindsay Cade, LPC [she/her/hers] is a licensed mental health therapist with 7 years experience providing mental health services. Read more about Lindsay here or contact her today to discuss starting therapy.
Series Table of Contents
INTRO: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: An Invitation
PART 1: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: We All Need A Village
PART 2: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: Name It
PART 3: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: Be Curious
PART 4: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: Practice Remembrance
PART 5: HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF: Throw Away Your Grief Watch