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Butterfly Cocoon

Undoubtedly, over the last several weeks, we’ve all been reading about, thinking about and feeling our way around the idea of collective grief. We are all certainly feeling, knowingly or unknowingly, and, to varying degrees, a sense of grief as we mourn the mounting losses of our freedoms. The freedom to go out, to travel and to just move about the world without looking over our shoulders. We’re also mourning the loss of being in physical contact with our people. We’re mourning the loss of not waking up in fear and uncertainty every, single day of our lives.

When this all started, I had feelings similar to when my Dad became overcome by cancer. It was June of 2018 and I was staying back at my parents house, sleeping in my old room and I would wake up in the morning, open my eyes and my first thought would be: “please let this day go quickly.”. I just wanted to get through it, I wanted to know what was going to come next and I wanted to not feel afraid. The uncertainty was brutal.

After my Dad died, I just wanted to move on. I didn’t want to think or talk anymore about it, I just wanted to go forward. But I couldn’t, there was a hole and when I finally realized it was there, I also realized it couldn’t be filled, but, it also couldn’t be ignored or run away from. When a friend asked me, “is there a hole you’re trying to fill?” I was so hurt I immediately said “no.”. It took a bit but the pain of that question, like a dull ache, told me something was there that needed to be looked at.

So, there was work to be done, therapy to be had and growth to ensue. I have learned a lot about grief since that time, and, probably one of the most interesting things I learned was that, often, in grief, there’s nothing you can, or, have to do. You just have to sit with the grief, with, what Glennon Doyle calls, the hot loneliness (even when you know you’re not alone) and you have to retreat, you have to go deep inward. Your people can’t help you, your default settings and behaviours certainly won’t help you; only you and finding a new way to be can do it. You can’t look out anymore; you have to look way deep within and face all your dragons because grief shows you everything. In the face of it, there’s absolutely nothing and nowhere you can hide. Not from your worst impulses. Not from your fears. And finally, at long last, not from yourself. You emerge eventually. You’re new, and, if for a time you have let yourself just be, you’ll also be better. Grief isn’t delightful but the outcome of your emergence can be.

Glennon Doyle posted about collective grief and she likened it to a cocoon. She advocates for no hustle, no self improvement, just relentless tenderness. What a beautiful and delightful thought. Relentless tenderness. A perfect balm over our individual and collective wounds. We will emerge from this moment and we will heal from it, but, as I’ve learned, we will need to be really tender with ourselves and with each other, the whole way through.

Originally published at on April 3, 2020.

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