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Hope can feel Heavy

Day 2: Hope is Heavy to Hold When You’re Grieving

We aren’t supposed to be able to hold hope alone in challenging times. Truly, we aren’t. It’s impossible in early grief, as well as when the waves of acute grief reemerge and pummel us.

Think of it like this—when we go into flight, fight or freeze mode, unnecessary bodily functions for survival (such as executive functioning, emotional regulation, digestive and reproductive systems) shut down temporarily to prioritize the act of escape.

When we are in grief, our ability for higher level functioning, such as holding hope, also tends to shut off and diminish for periods of time. For there is some functionality to that—our brain and heart are trying to figure out WHAT HAPPENED first and that takes a ton of energy and time and capacity.

So, we need help holding onto hope. And we will also need this because our relationship to and definition of hope is probably different after immense loss.

Some of the most helpful things folks have provided to me is the offer to hold the hope for me, such as a vision for my future, when I cannot. And this is not some passing, “oh, I know you’ll be ok,”—it is more of a connection—“I see you in the depths of the pain—I imagine you cannot see out of that right now—so I will carry the hope for you inside of me until you’re ready to have it back.” There is no blame, no shame, and no judgement in this kind of offer.

How can you hold hope for someone in your life? Who can hold hope for you when you cannot carry it alone?

Welcome to my second, 100-day project. I hope to provide a daily offering on something grief-related. I am a grief therapist and educator working with people in Oregon, Washington, DC, Maryland, and Maine.

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