Alia and I have been talking a lot about resilience lately, and for good reason. The trauma of right now is pervasive and wants to suck us down. Fighting that undertow takes great gobs of energy. It’s tempting to just hide under the bed. But especially if you’re a parent or a leader, your only option is to endure.
What we haven’t been talking about is grief. And Jennifer Garvey Berger thinks it’s time to change that, because the pre-pandemic world we knew, she argues, is never coming back.
She writes, “I think it’s time, though, as weeks have stretched into months and the coronaseason seems increasingly likely to stretch into years, for us to grieve what we have lost, to say goodbye to the lives we have had and to make space for the beauties that might be coming.”
So much of learning how to be a leader in a world boiling with change is learning how to stop playing games with ourselves. We put on our identity every morning like an invisible suit of armor. We tell ourselves stories about our life, mostly inaccurate, and often self-destructive. And we hide from our own emotions. Owning up to how we really are in any given moment may once have been a luxury, but now is part of the price of admission.
Grief is not an emotion most of us enjoy experiencing or admitting to others. For me it’s right up there with shame. To grieve is to acknowledge you hurt, that you’ve lost something or someone precious, and that your control over your world is finite, especially perhaps when things matter most.
The catch of course is that the only way to get over our grief is by honestly living it.
Read Jennifer’s piece – it’s classic Jennifer: powerful, poetic and undeniable. And practical. She leads us through her own self-inventory of things she needs to leave behind, things she’ll be bringing with her into the world unfolding, and opportunities for growth and discovery.
But it’ starts with what is. “It’s time,” she writes “to move through grief to whatever might be next. We will be virtual, we will be masked, we will be grounded for the foreseeable future. This is what it is.”