The Collective Grief Process

In Northern Vermont, it is still late winter.  The snow slowly recedes from the icy earth.  The maples are ending their cycle of thaw and freeze.  The chill lingers in the air, the last bitter bites of winter angrily nipping our bodies as it slowly fades into the shadow of the first crocuses.  And everything’s different, isn’t it?  Suddenly, in the course of weeks, the cycles, the routines, the existence we walked has changed.  And we are finding ourselves, as individuals within the collective organism of our combined consciousness, in grief.

The thing you will read about grief, is that it is an individual process.  We all experience, process, and express our grief in unique ways.  There are elements to grief that area universal.  The sadness, anger, and pain that is felt may be experienced at varying levels, but is experienced non-the-less.  The heaviness, loss, scattered sense of self.  We all feel it on some level, and have different ways of working through.  So grief looks different in different people, and right now, as a human community, we are all in it together.  Alone.

I reflect back on my first months without Tim and recollect what a weirdo I felt like.  This shell-shocked husk woman simmering in bitterness and sadness.  Somehow expected to continue in an unwanted alternate reality.  I didn’t know how I would ever escape that darkness that lingered in my bones.  I didn’t believe I would.  Until I did.  For the most part.

And here it is again.  This sudden shift into an alternate existence, previously unbeknownst to any of us.  Chaos’s unsubtle reminder that our sense of permanence is a foolish illusion.

And it’s happening to all of us.  All at once.

It’s a lot to process, isn’t it?

We are all going to move through this in different ways.  We all have unique stories and situations that will shape our experience in the coming weeks and months.  We will all loose something.  We will all experience something.

But what is different about this grief, is that it is a massive grief.  It is a Universal grief.  It is a grief that will settle into the crevices of society and shape us for generations to come.  And while it is happening to all of us in unique, individual ways, we are all cells in this greater human organism.  We are all affected.  We are all vulnerable.  We all have skin in this game.  And nothing quite like this has happened within any of our lifetimes.

None of us can know what our lives will look like on the other side of this.  But they will be different no doubt.  Maybe the changes will be subtle in the long term, a slightly altered way of moving and relating and connecting as we all slip back into our sense of normalcy.

Perhaps the changes will be profound.  Earth shattering shifts that toss us into new and uncharted directions.

We don’t know what will happen.  (And that’s what’s scary about this situation for many of us.)

I’m struggling, my friends.  This change process is dredging up a lot of discomfort and poking old wounds.  It’s testing me in ways I wasn’t quite ready for.  It’s being a bitch.

No doubt it’s doing the same for you.

This experience will test our connections, our assumptions, and our resilience.  It will bring forward the parts of ourselves we may normally push to the sides, shadow and light.  It will uncover new pieces of our individual and collective beings we were previously unaware of.  We will learn.  Or not.

We will continue.

We will.


But right now, we are all right in the middle of it.  And that’s a terribly uncomfortable place to be.  But please know, that unlike previous losses and traumas and discomforts we have experiences, none of us are alone this time.  (Even if you might, literally, be alone).  We have each other this time.  For better or worse.

So let’s be with each other.


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