It has been widely discussed that what many of us are feeling now is grief. We are experiencing loss at profound levels — loss of routine, loss of work, loss of security, loss of physical touch, loss of freedom, loss of safety, and loss of life. For many of us, we are experiencing pain and suffering in ways we have not encountered before, and for others — people of color and our elders — in ways that may feel painfully familiar.
To transform our pain, our grief, we must name the feelings and feel them to allow for healing. This is what comes before transformation, a process that allows for kindness, compassion, and empathy to grow.
The poet Naomi Shihab Nye writes in her poem “Kindness”: “Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows…then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore.”
To find our way through grief in uncertain times, we do have direction. Our hearts know the way — we are primed for goodness and wired for connection. We are resilient. We know that like seeds, we have within us the innate capacity to grow, to turn towards the light, to open to possibilities and new landscapes. We know that we need each other for survival. We need each other to make it through this strange and unpredictable time.
Let us anchor ourselves in the belief that our grief and uncertainty — our collective suffering — will yield a stronger, more resilient, more connected, kinder and gentler “us.” Let us allow ourselves to be transformed. Amidst the darkness of our time, this is a worthy outcome.
Teresa J. Haase
Teresa J. Haase is director of the Center for Grief and Healing, Hospice of the Piedmont.
Reference: Shihab Nye, Naomi; “Kindness” from “Words Under the Words: Selected Poems,” The Eighth Mountain Press, 1995