Post Election Grief

I am reeling in the aftermath of the recent US election. Most of the people I know are in similar straits. Shock, grief, horror, disbelief, difficulty sleeping, anger… the list goes on.

(Trump supporters: I am planning to open my heart to your perspective and your reasons for supporting him, but I am not there yet…I’ll need some time.)

It is early on as I write this – less than 48 hours since the news – and we are in the throes of trying to get our minds around what has happened, what it means, and what to expect going forward. All classic elements of grief and loss.

I am heartened, in these early stages, to hear and read about so many people realizing that it will take some time to formulate a response. That a response will be necessary, AND that right now, two days post-election, may be too soon. I am glad to see so much awareness of how we need to allow ourselves to feel, to reel for awhile, in the turbulence, and not rush to action, or reaction.

And I am worried a little about the things I am reading and hearing, that seem to be almost knee-jerk reactions: calls to resistance, plans for action, expressions of anger and rage at “those morons”, etc. I worry because these things seem to perpetuate the “them-vs-us” stance that is going to have to go at some point. Not yet, but at some point.

We WILL need to take meaningful and effective actions, and at the same time, we are probably not capable of making really good decisions or planning really positive actions quite yet. I encourage us all to wait, to feel, and to allow ourselves the time it takes to come to terms, before acting.

I keep thinking about how important Acceptance is. It’s the first part of the three-part Serenity Prayer, and it’s one of the classic stages of grief. I had a glimmer of hope today, when I remembered that Acceptance is not approval. It is not complacency, or letting the thing be OK. Real Acceptance is accepting the FACT that this has happened, is happening. Only when we accept the fact of the thing, can we begin to formulate or figure out, or be guided to a wise response.

I, for one, have a ways to go before I can even accept the fact. I woke up this morning to my partner’s words, “Oh, God, it’s still true.” Many times throughout the day, my mind jerks alive with a new fear, “Oh my God, he said THAT!”, or… “he did THAT,” or… “he’s planning to do THAT!” Acceptance, even of the fact of this, will take me some time. I’m not there.

Meanwhile, let us lick our wounds, hold close those who are dear to us, and remember that we CAN get through this, we CAN feel this terrible pain, and we WILL be in a position to act at some point, to play a role in moving forward positively and effectively. For now, let’s cry our tears; allowing ourselves to tune in to what we really need at this time, whether that’s being with people, or being alone. It is likely that we are a little “out of our minds” right now; let’s keep that in mind as we converse with others. Let’s express our anger (safely and appropriately – maybe even privately), and give extra attention to taking care of our basic physical needs. A response is going to be critically important, but it is not urgent. Let’s give ourselves time.

And let’s breathe, and breathe again, and again.

Blessings on this collective journey. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Ishwari