Many of us are experiencing our own personal grief over the death of a loved one, along with the collective grief during the pandemic. In my private counseling practice, I have heard many clients say, “I don’t know who I am anymore.” The world is less predictable, less “normal,” to us. We find ourselves reacting to situations and events in new, unfamiliar ways—thus we sometimes have the thought that we aren’t as resilient or as strong as we once thought we were. Perhaps we used to see ourselves as good problem-solvers or as very-focused with our goals. Now, sometimes we have poor attention spans, and we can’t think of what to do. Not much gets checked off our to-do list, whether it’s written or remembered.
January 2021 can be a great time to explore who we are. What are we learning from our individual grief and our collective grief? We can set new goals to look at ourselves, head toward growth, and have something positive come from the grief.
Erin Jacobson (TAPS Magazine, Winter 2020) suggests that we look at three areas to look at that are conducive to growth from grief:
- Go outside and move! Take a hike, walk, or run; it will help our brains. Allow nature to teach us. Notice the pace of nature and her beauty. “We can see how plants and trees go through the seasons and the ways they heal themselves.” We can learn new perspectives on grief.
- Create art! “Take time away from our devices and create!” Try new recipes. Create a handicraft. Start a project around the house. Paint kindness rocks. Two things I’ve discovered is how fun it is to learn to play the ukulele, and also to knit. I didn’t know I had it in me! Next, I want to learn to sing. In grief, words are sometimes hard to articulate; finding other ways to express ourselves can help. “Collage is one of the easiest ways to approach art as a healing tool.” Gather one or two magazines, scissors, and a sheet of paper. What pictures and words jump out at you? Rip or cut the word or picture and begin gluing them onto the paper. Save the final product. Reflect on it currently and again in the future. See where you have been and where you are now.
- Allow others into your process of exploring “Who Am I Now?” Let yourself feel a sense of community, a sense of connection. If it’s difficult to find others to meet with in person, consider accessing a website called Open to Hope at www.opentohope.com. You can hear other people talk about their experiences with grief and their growth from grief. Perhaps you’ll find something in common with them!
With vaccines in sight, we are heading into a period of more change and unpredictability. It’s the perfect time to explore “Who Am I Now?” What’s your plan? How can you get outside more? What art are you willing to create? Where will you find community?