Grace, Light, and Anchors

This week at work, a friend shared this article from HBR with me written by Scott Berinato. He writes what we’re going through right now is grief. He encourages us to call it what it is. That when we name the grief, we can then move through it.

He references what he calls “anticipatory grief, also known as anxiety. It’s that heavy feeling about what will happen in the future. Things like death, a hurricane, financial issues, or anything that you may worry about creates an anxiety, or a an anticipation of grief. Scott says, “Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety.” Scott gives a few other really helpful tips in the article, but what I’d like to talk about is grief itself.

Some of you may have experienced grief more times than you can count, others may not know what grief really feels like. This could be your first and only experience with this feeling. This heavy burden. This worry. This anxiety. This loss of control. It’s a shadow that doesn’t leave. It feels hard. I know what that feels like. I’ve been there and it sucks.

When you face the loss of a loved one, one of the most helpful things during those times is to look to a friend or family member to help you through it. Someone that’s disconnected enough from the situation where they can be your anchor. They are steady and strong. They show up with food, kind words, cards, a hug, or take you out of the house when you need it. They show up because they’re close but not so close that they’re engulfed in their own grief.

What we need to realize is that everyone is grieving right now in some way or another. They may be grieving an economic loss, lack of community, of touch, safety, control, or the loss of someone they care about. And when everyone is grieving, who is there to be the anchor? Who is there to be the steady and strong support? Who’s there to show up? Who’s close but not too close to the issue?

The answer? Probably nobody. Everyone has been affected in one way or another. So how we get support during this time looks different. It looks like someone getting out of the house for their own sanity to dropping off a meal at a distance to a front stoop. It looks like a parade through the neighborhood in cars instead of a gender reveal party or a birthday celebration. It includes a Zoom call to sit in your living rooms and cry together, and a text message of meaning instead of a hug. It’s a phone call, a card, or gift in the mail because they can’t visit your hospital room in person. And when they show up, they don’t leave their own worries behind. They come with them like a shadow. They stay close. But not so close that it consumes them, because when you show up for someone else, more light comes in. The shadow isn’t as dark, but it’s still there.

We are sitting in a place mixed with light and dark. With compassion and grief. With shadows and rainbows. One moment we are grieving our own loss while the next we are trying to help someone else through their own. It is a weird place to be.

This current time feels hard for so many because it is. But for so many different reasons. For some, this is their first “loss” or battle through grief, and they don’t know what that looks like. For others, it’s their third or fourth or fifth time experiencing grief, but this time it’s about something that’s unseen, that is hard to even identify and bring words to explain. For others, there is a grief over a loss of control, safety, or an economic loss. This is all new for everyone but we must remain resilient.

The encouragement I want to share with you all is to to show up as much as you can, even when you are hurting. Leave your shadow behind and bring the light to someone else, if only for a few minutes. Let’s give abounding grace, and let’s remain resilient. This is hard and it sucks but we are all in this together. We will make it to the other side.

Sending grace, light, and anchors,

Steph