Note: I drafted this item several months ago, when I was feeling pretty low, & was writing a bunch of essays with one-word titles (crazy, funny, mad) – but never quite got the time to get the links in this one sorted out. So here it is, half a year later than planned. I’ll add that, since I drafted this, some new sadnesses have been added to the mix. Such is life, hmmm?
I am sad about soooo many things these days/daze, I won’t attempt to list them all.
Recording them all here would just make both of us feel sad(der) … & I think we’re all sad enough about so many things already, we don’t need anyone adding to the sadness quotient with any more items, thank you very much.
For many of us, I think, it isn’t “just” sadness we’re talking about.
It may be despair. Feeling heartbroken… and, grief. Lots of grief.
(maybe feeling frantic, too. I think a lot of us feel a little frantic at times with all that’s going on. Yikes. :( )
I’ve been an activist for 30+ years now, 28 of these focused on environmental issues.
I know more about some issues, & even know of some new issues (new ones all the time, actually), than the average person is aware of, or wants to be aware of. The pool of issues is large, deep & wide, & I can’t say I blame folks for not wanting to dive into it. Knowing all the stuff I know really kind of sucks. Now I’m stuck with all that knowing ... ‘cos there’s no way to un-know it, once you know it. You know?
But it isn’t “just” the world stuff that makes me sad, it’s personal stuff too. Stuff in my own life. Some things from the past. Some things very present.
Frankly, I think there is quite a lot of grief all around us.
As I’ve learned from some wise people along the way, there are 2 big things about this:
#1. We don’t “do” grieving well, in this culture of ours. Or sorrow. We push it down, suppress it, hide it, deny it, minimize it, medicate it, don’t allow it house room. Which, of course, only serves to make it grow bigger, likely uglier too, & more dangerous … even explosive. Not a good recipe, hmmm? We see the unfortunate results all around us (pressure cookers, hmmm? They have this way of blowing from time to time).
# 2. Talking about our despair … sadness … grief – is healing. Conversation itself is healing … hugely so!
I want to share a few resources that might be helpful.
I’m walking kind of a fine line here, Reader. Some of the things I want to point you to reveal my … what some would call extremely dark take on the state of the world. & if you’re not ready to hear about that (it seems many people are not), that would likely just add to your sadness (or fear, grief, heartbrokenness …. etc.).
So I’m going to be a little sort of generic here & stick with resources on “common” or garden variety anxiety.
Now, as a general rule, I’m a big fan & advocator of truthfulness.
Being honest & truthy (as I think Anne Lamott might say) is kind of the way I think it’s best to go about our lives (lots of great quotes about truth here! - a few good ones about lying, too!)
But I guess baby steps are good too … if the whole truth & nothing but the truth is seemingly not able to be on the table for some reason (& I think maybe I get that now, better than ever before).
If we’re sad, some of these resources might be able to help you deal with sadness/anxiety.
- How to manage anxiety (podcast from CBC Radio)
- An anxious young person …. with how I managed not to kill myself yesterday
- For adolescents (but not just adolescents)
- Cam’s Kids "Supporting youth struggling with anxiety"
- Jack "The only national network of young leaders transforming the way we think about mental health" – which I heard about in this interview on CBC Radio
Afraid of Death?
Try listening to some Alan Watts YouTubes. Watts has a lovely, calm, even humorous & light take on things. I could listen to the man for hours. I think he was pretty wise.
This is not a bad one to start with.
People whose work I’ve run across who seem pretty darn wise about grief (remember: I’m sticking to the more or less “generic” kind …)
Some Good Articles on Grief
Cheryl Strayed interview on Q - Nov. 19th (17 minutes; not an article, but a podcast)
The Geography of Sorrow Francis Weller
The Myth of Closure - Pauline Boss
Preparing internally for whatever comes next Joanna Macy
In these uniquely challenging times, I think most of can use a little help.
Talking about things with someone we trust can be life-altering. (Note: that trust part is key!)
We feel lighter – less alone – when we let the feelings out. (Not just that, as we do articulate them, we begin to grasp better what it is we are feeling. Insights dawn...)
We’re not islands, we human beings. Were never meant to be islands. We are actually wired for connection. As an Irish proverb says,
“It is in the shelter of each other the people live.”
p.s. being sad is real. Feeling grief is real. All our emotions are real! Pushing them down or denying them is not the way to heal – or to deal with the many challenges we are all of us facing in this so-troubled world, & time.
p.p.s. walking is a great way to feel a bit more human. Adding a daily walk to your routine can definitely, definitely help!
A few relevant quotations
“Her grief was dignified and hidden, as is most grief, which is partly why there is always so much of it to go around.” – from The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers
“A broken heart is an open heart.” – Gretel Ehrlich, nature writer, Shambhala Sun (Jan. 2005)
Alexander McCall Smith has the character Angus Lordie say, in Bertie’s Guide to Life and Mothers, “He [psychiatrist Dr. Macgregor] told me that the solution to so many problems is to talk about them. If you talk freely about a problem, then you take away its power to distress you.” (more talking quotes)
“Many of the things we all struggle with in love and work can be helped by conversation. Without conversation, studies show that we are less empathic, less connected, less creative and fulfilled. We are diminished, in retreat.” – from Reclaiming Conversation – The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, by Sherry Turkle
“The cultivation of a stance of invulnerability robs men of a wisdom known to most women in this culture – that people actually connect better when they expose their weakness. Linguist Deborah Tannen, analyzing women’s ‘rapport talk’ versus men’s ‘report talk,’ found that a vital component of conversation between women was what she called ‘trouble talk’ – inviting the listener in by opening up one’s own points of vulnerability. Finally, to the degree to which a man learns to ‘be strong’ and to devalue weakness, his compassion toward frailty not just in himself but also in those around him may be limited or condescending. In this and many other ways, the loss of expressivity and the loss of vulnerability inevitably lead to diminished connection with others.” – from I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression, by Terrence Real
“Only connect. This is how we make meaning. This is how we learn to think as Nature thinks.” – Gregory Bateson, anthropologist
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” – from the Talmud