During times of grief, community matters. When people share a specific experience, this commonality gives a sense of safety or normalcy. From that normalcy, there is a comfort you are not alone in what you are experiencing. For all the complexities that go into grief and loss, finding shelter in a community or space composed of similar backgrounds allows for a healing space.
In the company of others in these healing spaces and communities, there is a vulnerability by which fights the need to isolate. It inoculates against the idea that one has to endure grief in stoic resolve! It is in these cloisters of community whether forged by the atrocities of war, remembering a sit-in during the Civil Rights Movement, or being part of a group of healthcare workers who are on a COVID-19 unit, there is something integral and special about these types of communities.
There is something powerful about having that kind of healing space among people whom you don’t have to consistently ‘decode’ your experience to or for.
What I mean when I say ‘decode’, it means that there is a certain language and jargon to grief. What grief looks like for a war veteran of World War II, looks different than the war veterans of the Iraq-Afghanistan conflict. The grief looks different from a group of nurses that work on a cancer ward, than those whom work in a COVID-19 unit. Yet, in those bonds of grief, of suffering, of loss are common and deserve their own respect. Grief looks different because although there is a commonality to grief, it is still specific to the individual.
Sometimes, you just need someone that understands what you have gone through; what you have seen; what you have lost! Sometimes the best thing you can do is to speak to people with a similar experience about your specific, individual interaction within that experience.
The power of therapy, to benefit the most from a therapeutic experience, there must be a foundation of respect. From that respect, begets a safety not found anywhere else!
Grief is a public and private matter, one can be assured.
Yet, it is community with those of similar pains and experiences of such similar grieving which provide the basis to do the most basic thing: cope. From that coping, healing, the reminder life still joyous and available, is possible—and well within reach.