wooden figure holding a red heart

I entered 2020 with the mindset “remove urgency.” Throughout 2019, life’s storms kept knocking me over, and I knew it was time for me to simplify. I didn’t want to enter another year causing myself more stress as my body and mind needed to recover from all that I had faced. Never could I have imagined that 2020 would remove urgency but add on so much more grief.

We keep hearing the word “grief” brought up in the media in relation to death, but I believe we are only looking at it through a narrow lens. This year is teaching us a broader definition. I have come to understand grief to be an experience we all go through multiple times in our lives where we learn to let go of holding on so tight to dreams and expectations of how life should go and move towards greater growth and acceptance of how life is. We as a collective have been faced with grief as our personal worlds have been completely changed and in some cases, torn apart.

I watch as our society is getting more and more agitated, injustices rise to the surface for all to see, and we struggle to understand what is truth and what is gaslighting. All I see are people grieving. We shed light on hurt and pain, fear and anxiety, and the overwhelming question “What’s next?” and again all I see is grief. This is the year of us having to learn to let go of our expectations of how life “should” go and what we thought reality actually was. Our eyes have been opened and cannot be shut again. Denial is a phase of grief that we can no longer sit in. It’s time to face the next phases and not run from them.

Grief will impact us for years to come after 2020. This has started a chain reaction and many are not prepared to handle it. We link grief to suffering and misery, so naturally we want to run from it. Marketing agencies work to get you to buy things in order to avoid the feelings that grief can bring. We are fed lies about what we actually need to be happy in life, and yet we fall for them repeatedly.

The reality is grief and being uncomfortable will be a part of our lives and it’s time for a mindset shift. “No mud, no lotus” is a quote and book by Thich Nhat Hahn that has helped me better understand life’s challenges. We have to endure and grow in the darkness in order to produce the beauty that only this type of growth can bring. This means that running from it is not an option.

How do we endure something we have been trained to want to run from? How do we remind ourselves of our capability to handle whatever life brings us? These are the questions I and my clients in my private practice have been wrestling with this year. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable doesn’t come naturally to most of us, and yet here we are having to learn how to do so. My advice: seek support, share your grief with others so notice you are not alone, and be honest with yourself.

When a client comes to the understanding that what they have been feeling this year is grief, it’s like a tight muscle that is finally released. They can breathe. They have a word for what is going on inside of them. They know they can equip themselves with tools to cope with the anger, sadness, and fear that arise as they go on their grief journey. I am not saying it’s easy at all, but we all know the first step is acknowledging our truth.

Well, 2020, you certainly removed urgency, but you packed a mean punch of other life lessons. You caused the whole world to look at themselves, life, and others differently. I guess this was the mud that we needed to go through, and I know there is more to come, but I am open to becoming a lotus after all this is over. Dear reader, are you ready to join me?