Of changes, challenges and a new way of being
"When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves."
– Victor Frankl
Perspective is the lens through which we see the world. It determines our world view.
My perspective is guided by the width of my aperture.
I know at times I narrow my perspective to eliminate the things that make me feel unsafe, insecure or fearful.
If my experience of the world narrows and is overly focused, I feel disconnected from others.
When I open my aperture a little wider, my heart softens allowing for other possibilities, other interpretations, other perspectives.
When we suffer a sudden loss we become hyper-focused on the loss. Our brains are conditioned to predict the future on past experiences.
When we are grieving our brain returns, over and over again, to the moment of loss, trying to find familiar ground. Grief is like a raging river tossing us among the rapids of memory, regret and tears.
When our world is shattered by traumatic loss our brain disorients.
While reactions to trauma may vary, we each search for peace. One person might retreat to a dark room to seek solace. Another takes action to create distraction.
My friend Debbi lost her daughter Phoebe, age 23, to suicide.
Debbi was immediately overwhelmed by all of the tasks thrust upon her. She worked with the coroner to identify the body. She sought out her ex-husband, Phoebe’s father, to sign off on the cremation of her body. She cleared Phoebe’s room so that her roommates could begin healing from the trauma. With the help of friends, Debbi held a celebration of life while caring for Phoebe’s two brothers.
She did all of this with little sleep and the heavy weight of grief.
Debbi told me, “I made a conscious decision to not let Phoebe’s death subsume the family. It was not going to be our purpose in life. We would have to process our grief together.”
Debbi rejected the stigma of suicide and accepted Phoebe’s explanation in her suicide note. Phoebe could not get her bipolar brain to fit into this life. Debbi realized that it took courage for Phoebe to take such a drastic action.
Many who suffer from traumatic loss and grief recognize that they either have to change their perspective or go insane. It takes creativity and imagination to shift gears, open our aperture and find a new point of view.
Rituals enhance our ability to re-imagine a new way of seeing, a new way of being.
While rituals are ancient human activities, contemporary research shows that those who practice rituals lower their anxiety, gain confidence and better navigate the journey of grief.
Here are 3 simple rituals you might try:
• Ritual 1: Slow down and re-ground. Engage your senses and the natural world to return you to the present moment. Listen to the birds sing. Stroke the bark of a tree. Smell the rain. Savor the abundance of the harvest. Gaze at the sunrise and bless the day.
• Ritual 2: Start a gratitude practice. At the beginning, the middle and the end of each day, think of 3 things you are grateful for. This is simple but powerful ritual.
Ritual 3: Dream on. Wake up your unconscious and let it inform you. Attend to your dreamtime. Cultivate your active imagination. And, have the courage to be a new form of you.
We will all suffer many losses in our lives. It is never too early or too late to create relevant, resonant ritual expressions that meet the needs of your own true, best self.