Learning to live with the unimaginable … this is what grief is. And this is what our collective life is right now.
The lyric, “learn to live with the unimaginable” comes from one of my favorite Hamilton songs. When I watched it last month for the first time, this lyric struck me differently than all the prior times I’d heard it. The world we are living in feels “unimaginable” in so many ways. I have friends deep in quarantine that I haven’t seen in months. There is more fear and more anger everywhere and no where to escape the pervasive presence of COVID. Everywhere we go (or stay-put) we are reminded of the extra-ordinary time that this is.
So, how exactly are we learning to live in this mishmash of chaos and grief where nothing feels normal? Not even home.
My home feels more lived in but also more lonely. I miss what I had and I dearly want my normal back – and that has felt good for me to say out-loud (go ahead, say it out-loud if it’s how you are feeling). We are all experiencing many forms of loss. Events are cancelled or changed radically, friendships are restricted and some may be strained. Life is on hold and it’s hard to live in this tenuous limbo. It seems we can get so focused on how uncomfortable or frustrated we are that we forget to just grieve the loss we are feeling. Getting to the actual source of pain is hard, anger and irritation is much easier and requires little growth. Figuring out when we are in pain is, in my opinion, learning something pretty important about living.
When we can name what we are grieving and then actively grieve it, some of that irritation and roughness will go away. The act of grieving has a simple magic to it: it just helps us move into a better space. It’s ok to miss normal and want normal back and still wear masks and care for people. We can hold all of those together in the difficult destination point of acceptance. “I miss my old life. This is my life now. This life will also change.”
*These suggestions are written for anyone grieving anything
The bottom-line: don’t be afraid of grief or to name what you are going through. Grief is there to usher us into the unimaginable, to help us find our footing, show us we are still living, and light the way through.