Something else interests me about grief though and that is the grief that child abuse survivors have because it’s complicated. We aren’t grieving a person we’ve lost, we’re grieving something we never had. A safe, happy childhood or a loving parental relationship that didn’t exist. The lack of any kind of family bonds as an adult, or the inability to trust anyone. Those are things we can, and should, grieve. Often we aren’t given the chance to do that. Other people expect us to “put it behind us” because it was a long time ago. We may even convince ourselves that the best option is to suck it up and forget it, no reason to think about any of that. But, I think there’s a reason to grieve the things we didn’t have as children. They are very real losses. They have very real impacts on our brains and our emotional well-being. We can’t change it now, but we can allow ourselves the freedom to feel grief over it. It’s part of the process.
So, what do we do? We can definitely take advantage of the suggestions made by Lindsey Holmes in that HuffPost link above. We can also acknowledge that without available therapists, many of us are going to have to do the best we can for ourselves and each other. We are going to have to muddle through this, and the only way to muddle through is by supporting each other. No, we are not therapists and we shouldn’t really try to be. But, we can be human beings who care enough about other humans to offer support. Whether that be in person, through text or calls, on social media, etc. we can all offer something to each other. We can all share our stories and our struggles because right now there’s simply no excuse for anyone to feel like they are struggling alone.
We need each other now, as always. We need our community. We need our connections. We need to know that we are not alone in this. So, let me, in the midst of my own exhaustion, do this one thing. If you’re feeling hopeless, angry, anxious, depressed, etc. because of the state of the world, or the state of your job, the losses you’ve suffered, the issues you are fighting for, the struggle to hang on to hope, you are not alone. I am with you. I see you. I share your exhaustion, frustration, anger, and your need for rest. Whether we’ve talked about this personally, or if you’re simply holding this all in and trying to keep it together, I see you. I’m with you. We are together in this, and we should share the little bits of hope with each other. They may be hard to see, but the more of us who are dedicated to looking for them, and sharing them, the more of it we’ll draw strength from.
So is it possible that simply making some sort of care easily accessible to more people, and looking out for each other, including in the workplace, helped lower the number of deaths by suicide? I’m willing to continue trying to do both of those things going forward to find out. It certainly seems like as good a place to start as any, and maybe lowering that number isn’t as complicated as we thought. It just takes the willingness to get these things done.
You may have seen someone talking about this on social media, or in an article online, or somewhere else. I’ve seen it in numerous places. The idea is that, right now, with a pandemic, racial justice issues, and everything else that we are dealing with, suddenly talking about anxiety and depression, or being lonely and…
Why do I see these two things as related? Well. let’s start with Sean Astin. It’s hard not to think that he has lived an amazingly privileged life. He’s been famous since he was a little kid, after growing up part of Hollywood royalty. If anyone has the means to shelter himself away from the harder topics of life, he’s one of those people. But he chooses not to, because he’s seen first hand what it is like to life with, and love someone with, mental health issues. That experience drives him to advocacy. He wants to share what it was like, and help others watching a mental health condition tear apart their own family.
In short, he gets it because he knows.
The same seems to be true when it comes to how serious COVID-19 really is. It seems to me there are a lot of people thinking it’s not very serious because well, no one they know has died or anything serious. 130,000 “other people” have died in the US. On the other hand, there are those of us who do know people who’ve died, or spent time hospitalized, tend to take it very seriously. Because we know. We’ve seen it. We’ve grieved because of it.