It´s been a wretched time of sadness with streams of newsfeeds incessantly filled with tragic news.
I´ve noticed my anxiety heightened – i´ve been on edge like so many. Bracing for shock, but also strangely drawn to the details, consuming as much info as I can about what happened as if it will help me understand how such things can happen. Then feeling anxious about what I read – and so the cycle continues.
On Monday I went to write at my local coffee shop. I was sitting there like many others, engrossed in what I was doing, until suddenly a deafening bang reverberated through the entire building. In shock, we immediately turned to look to our left, seeing the glass door completely shattered. This door was at least 8ft high, very thick and sturdy and it was now in crumbs all over the floor.
Heart in my throat, I was visibly trembling from the depths of my bones, eyes wide, breath short, barely blinking as I tried to see if there was any clue as to how it happened – but inwardly nervous to even look just in case – you guessed it – it was someone with a weapon who was going to come in and hurt us all.
Part of me was ready to leap out of my seat and run for my life, the other was frozen in its tracks. My heart was pumping wildly, breath short and body trembling uncontrollably. This was the embodiment of fight or flight.
What was interesting as I wasn´t alone in the café. As people in the UK tend to do (but usually about the weather or a late bus), we turned to each other to ask "are you ok?" and nervously smiling in almost-relief when we realised that each of us was ok. We were checking each other. Commenting on what was going on and exclaiming “what on earth?!” and “how astonishing – a mystery!”. Repeating to each other what we had seen, even though we all had seen the same thing - the babbles of shock.
It´s a comfort of sorts, I think, those moments of connection. That despite what is going on, a reminder of the core kindness that we share that is always possible to find. A remembering. Of what is important. Beyond our stories and experiences, our lifestyles and our supermarket choices.
It´s easy to forget the goodness.
The intrinsic feeling of connection we share as humans.
How fundamentally alike we are.
That we all want to be well. And heal.
That the body naturally wants to heal.
That we naturally want to connect. To be safe. To feel love. To share love.
Despite tragedy. Despite the horrors. The fears. The anxiety of more wretched news. Despite grief. Remember who you are. Remember there is goodness. Remember love.
Contemplation on feelings of grief or loss
Give yourself space to be with your feelings. Let yourself grieve. Feel whatever is going there. Feelings are natural and are meant to be felt. Give yourself room to move through them. And remind yourself of that: Feelings are not static. They change. Shift. Move. Leave.
But in the meantime, let yourself be in your feelings. Grief is a natural response to loss, and there´s no one way or “right way” to grieve.
Feeling stuff is ok.
It means you are sensitive and that you care about others. We need more of that in the world.
In the process of grieving, let yourself be supported. That might be by being alone or with someone who comforts you. Make yourself as comfortable as you can. Drink enough water. Breathe and notice how you breathe. Let your breath remind you of presence. Of being.
Let the images, sensations and thoughts arriving come naturally, being tender with them and with yourself. Give yourself time. Remind yourself of this process. It´s ok that you reflect and contemplate. Keep breathing.
Notice your body and how you are holding yourself. Are you comfortably seated or standing? Are you noticing areas of tension? Can you soften them? Even just a little? Try as you exhale to make more room. More softness. Let the physical tension unravel.
Notice how you talk to yourself now. Especially if you came across tension. Can you be kind? Can you speak to yourself nicely? With compassion and respect?
Be gentle with yourself.
If you feel the need to release, be it taking big sighs, or feeling tears come, let that happen. This is natural, and it´s the body´s way of releasing. It´s good to release and to let this move through you. To release and to let each layer of sadness go is part of the healing process.
You might feel like writing down your feelings. Or drawing. Or moving. Let yourself move through this process constructively. You might feel like being around others and sharing gives you strength and support. Give yourself time. Keep talking to yourself nicely, respectfully. Keep breathing as fully as you can.
With love and support always,
Artwork by Nathaniel Russell