I talk a lot about grief from loss, but there’s a big piece of it that comes from events of the world. When racist hate settled into Virginia this past weekend, I watched it unfold through the safety of the media, but found myself levelled by it just days after as I learned more and more.
I cried. I reached for comfort, and I invited my partner into my despair. He met me there, and we talked about what was happening. I signed up for this course, I prayed, I posted my thoughts in a few of my social media places. I realized that I have a tendency to go inward to take care of myself when I am worried or stressed, and decided to bring my partner into my suffering and it brought us closer together.
At the same time, I was being asked to compose guest posts for publications all over the world about marriage and strategies to stay together, and surviving grief. Everything felt trite, until I realized this: our relationships listen to the news, too, and need us to care for them so we can be nurtured by them.
Here are some ways to take care of your relationship so it can take care of you:
- Talk about what’s happening. If you’re affected by what you’re seeing in the news, don’t necessarily wait to be midwifed through an uncomfortable conversation. Stumble, say things that you worry might be wrong, but have these conversations and through them, care for each other deeply.
- Get some support for your conversations. If #1 feels like it’s not a safe place to go, if you have some uncommon ground that feels shaky, then by all means, pull in someone like myself to support you. It is the super powers of coaches and therapists to talk about uncomfortable things.
- Practice what you know to be true for you. Pray. Play. Make a big dinner. Get outside. Get naked and hold each other. Whatever grounds you, do that.
- Don’t be afraid to shut out the world. Sometimes, we feel shamed by the demands of articles and influencers in the media, asking us to take a stand and resist, and yes, we should. But. We also need to take care of ourselves so that we have something to give. Fill your cup, take care of yourself, and then look at giving.
- Ask for what you need and give as requested. We assume that our partners are coping with stress the same way that we are, but we all process differently. If you need space and silence, ask for it. If you need to watch a mindless movie to distract you, ask for that. And understand that your partner will have different needs, too.
- Save your kindest words for each other. Commit to being a nest of safety for each other and your children, if you have them.
- Practice gratitude. I remember when we had to say goodbye to my very-sick dog last year that at the end of that very long and sad day, I said, “It feels like our little family took a hit today, let’s talk about gratitude.” At the end of that conversation, we were both laughing and feeling joy.
Maybe you don’t notice what is happening in the world, and maybe you do. Maybe you feel like you’re immune to it and that it doesn’t affect you. I am willing to guess that somewhere in your circle—maybe it’s your partner or your kids, or your neighbour—others are feeling the unrest going on and whether you see it or not, it’s likely taking a toll on your relationship. I err on the side of loving more and taking more care with my loved ones, and I invite you to do the same.
To join the conversation already in progress, I invite you to join me here in our Facebook Group, Grief: A Love Story