A slower kind of grief


It is a gray, cold day here in Ohio.  Like many people I know, both here at home and abroad, I awoke this morning after a fitful few hours’ sleep to a world blackened by the election results of this country of ours.  I am shocked, honestly, at the outcome of what has been a really painful time to be an American.  Perhaps I am naive but I thought better of neighbors, extended family members and yes probably even a co-worker.  I find it truly hard to believe that anyone would vote for someone who carries himself in the world the way our new president-elect does, though I knew there were those people out there, fearful enough to go for his vague messages of ‘change-maker’ and ‘political outsider’.  But yes, perhaps I was fooling myself.

And today, I am grieving.  Not in the way one might be disappointed after an election goes in favor of the other party.  I’ve had those years and that did feel bad enough.  But, one wakes up, trusts in the system and has an extra cup of coffee.

This is a deeper level of grief.  A grief I am truly having trouble wrapping my brain around at the speed expected of such things in the world these days.  I am a slow cooker when it comes to most everything.  I don’t do well with hurrying along emotions or decision making.  This morning I visited my usual online haunts first thing, to commiserate with friends, and perhaps begin to wrap some words around this awful sense I’m feeling in the gut of my deepest gut.   And I found an interesting phenomenon happening there.  One which I think is indicative of the pace of things in the modern world.

People are already moving on.  

I think part of this notion is the desire not to get mired down in the deep dark depths of negativity, which on the whole, is admirable.  And yes, I do believe the path forward must be one of light and peacemaking.  That said, I can’t go there yet.  I am still grieving.  At my own apparently geologic pace.

For many of my more moderate friends, this election was difficult in that they really didn’t feel they had a choice.  I know many who ‘held their noses and voted for Hillary’.  While I don’t understand this thinking, everyone comes to their beliefs through their own experiences (and, it must be said, ‘news’ agencies).  It’s my own experiences that are feeding this deep aching grief of mine, however.

For a short while there, I’d had a sense that the world, and indeed our country, were changing for the good.  There seemed to be more acceptance of those with differences, a real desire on the part of people to further understand one another’s religions and cultures and true selves.  This felt like a world I could live in.

Some snapshots…..

When I was a kid, after having moved around all sorts of places in the world, my broken family came home to live back here in Ohio.  We were poor, very poor, and my single mom did her very best to do her very best through work, food stamps and night school.

A few years later our household eventually held two women and three children, living together under one roof and this was apparently problematic in the small Ohio town we landed in.  We weren’t exactly lovingly accepted into the community fold.  In fact, one time, we even had a rock thrown through our living room window.  Even at that time, I knew why.

As a woman, I’ve witnessed and experienced the countless subtle and not so subtle ways women can be demeaned in our society. Hillary Clinton’s campaign gave me hope that in spite of this, perhaps women could have their equal time at the table.  That inclusion could be possible for everyone.  As the mother of two young adults, one of whom is gay, I was feeling like the world could be safer than the one I grew up in. That fewer rocks of ignorance might be thrown through our windows.  That maybe my daughter could pursue her own path of service and leadership in the world on an equal footing.

I don’t often write here on this blog in such a personal way.  I attempt to keep things liminal, otherworldly and artful.  I shall head back down that rabbit hole for my work and my own sanity eventually.  But I feel compelled to write this personally after this dreadful election.  Tweets and facebook posts aren’t enough.  We must do some deeper thinking as a country.   Some slow, deep thinking.  I wonder if anyone slows down to think any more.  It certainly doesn’t seem so.  It’s all about the next tiny parcel of semi-information, and sound bytes –  small cogs in the wheel of the world spinning out of control.  Perhaps the pace of things is different elsewhere.  I don’t know.  I do know that I’m having a hard time with how things are rolling along here and now.  I worry that this very pace of surface information flying hither and thither contributed to the awful results we face this morning as a country.

This all being what it is, today I plan to get some spring bulbs into the ground.  Which feels infinitely hopeful.  I am trying to tap into our wiser selves a few months in the future….


And I await the arrival of a missing printer which I am fairly excited about.  These are small, practical things I am looking forward to in my small day to day.  But I will continue to grieve for the bigger picture of things.  I am deeply grateful for friends who get that maybe for some of us, this grieving may take some time.  Those of us who have been desperately poor, or have been victims of misogynistic behavior or have been on the ‘fringe’ of society somehow or other, will need a bit of time before we can ‘move forward’, ‘stay positive’, etc.  We can get to that in January.

Thanks to my dear friend Justin for these beautiful, kind words which he wrote just as I began this lengthy blog post.

“I see a lot of folks on my feed telling folks that are reacting negatively to the election outcome to keep it together and get over it . . . so I just want to throw this out there:

If you’re sad, no shame. If you’re angry, no shame. If you’re scared, no shame. There is absolutely not a DAMN thing wrong with sadness, anger, or fear. You don’t need to “get over it”, “man up”, “move on”, “grow a pair”, or whatever else. You have (and God knows you don’t need it from me) full permission to experience YOUR experience, and there isn’t a soul alive or otherwise that has the right to make you do any different. Love is the greatest ally to all persons on this planet, so start with yourself and own your experience, no shame.”

And while we are on the subject of wise words, here are two more quotes bringing me some small solace this morning.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”   ~Julian of Norwich


“FRODO: I can’t do this, Sam.
SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.
FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?
SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”     ~(not sure if this is quoted from the book or the movie, but it’s from Tolkien’s The Two Towers. )


6 thoughts on “A slower kind of grief”

  1. Oh so grateful that you shared so deeply. You have affirmed my own feelings. I hold them so closely that I didn’t even get to this til today…because I retreated to the ‘rabbit hole’ of my art to express myself and to, well, ‘just feel.’ As for me, it is so important to re-connect with like-minded souls today. And to plant my bulbs, too (Yep NE Ohio is better-looking today for that activity). Important for me to remember that the majority of American voters agree with us: not only did Hillary win the popular vote, but add in those 3rd party voters, and the numbers of good folks who hope for better are still strong. We shall overcome.

    1. Thanks for your comment Karen. This election is absolutely huge and a game changer. And people are really angry. (we have every right to be!) I’ve read a number of articles that basically state, ‘well, that’s it folks, he’s our president.’ I am not willing to roll over and be ok with that myself. I think our changing country needs something better. I am not sure how this will all go. Will this man’s unpredictable, vile behavior be his very downfall in the end? Perhaps. and part of me really hopes for that. I do believe we are in for a wild ride. I just hope it will be peaceful and positive. But change isn’t always pretty. But you can always find a safe haven down in this little rabbit hole. You are welcome for tea any time. 🙂

  2. I’m so grateful for this post. I’ve moved from feeling physically ill on election morning to feeling as if a dear friend has died – it really feels that way to me, when I think of how hard President Obama worked to create a better, more inclusive, more caring culture, and how this man will try to turn all that around. I too worry deeply about misogyny and those who may now be marginalized even more. But I do take hope from the fact that the majority of the population did not vote for him, that there is bound to be opposition, and that now that Obama has shown what the country can be, many will hold to that vision and strive to keep it alive. I, too, have wondered if he might overreach himself, but I have to accept the fact that I can’t control or predict anything. Like you, I realize that there is no short cut to overcoming grief. It will have to take it’s own time. Again, so glad you have articulated so much of what I and others feel. I hope we find the time to talk more in person sometime. Connecting is so important.

    1. Thanks for this lovely comment Kathleen. I agree with you! Although, I am not sure if I glean hope from the fact that the majority of the population didn’t vote for him, or if I am feeling hopeless due to the fact that only 51% if our population actually voted. The level of apathy in our country is almost as disturbing as the underlying hatred festering below the surface of Main Street America. We have a long way to travel. A long way to go toward understanding each other. Maybe we never will. I have reached out on the Book of Faces to my more conservative leaning friends to attempt an understanding of a Trump vote and the notion of ‘i voted for policy’ just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s not enough. Basic human decency comes first in my book. It’s the golden rule for cryin’ out loud!! But yes, let’s keep the conversation going. and the tunes. Always the tunes. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. <3

  3. Yet another beautiful Post, Amy. Over the pond, here, the UK is experiencing similar upheavals; liberal and progressive thinking is under attack as people swap one set of elites for another in the vain hope that this will solve deeper issues that go right to the heart and soul of a nation. We are what we think and feel. And slow is the key, you are so right! I got rid of my TV 5 years ago, I never listen to news, do not read newspapers and yet make the time to find out things for myself, rather than being fed the agendas of others. I drive carefully, not nervously, and spare the lives of countless animals on the roads, whilst being safe and considerate of all around me. I notice the world around me, as others speed by. I see the buzzard perching in the tree, the fox crossing the road, and as I slow down, my thoughts slow down so I can think, ponder, explore my inner landscape and remember that, as a human animal, I am a part of this planet, not a conductor of it. This is my way to retain sanity and inner peace against a world that is insane. So good to know there are others of us out there. x

    1. Oh yes Robyn, we must protect our inner sanctuary. I do not watch television myself either unless I opt to take in a show on Netflix or some other no-commercial option. I do read the news though and stay up on politics and such. I have just always done it so very quietly. and I will continue to do so. But this recent election has me ever so sad. And ever so angry. And that is not likely to go away. I am going to be more careful where I put my money. For example, did you know that Paypal company backed trump?? I’ve switched my online payment option to SquareCash. It’s a small move, but if we all begin thinking this way, we can make great change in the world. Sigh. Thank you for your commentary and readership. It’s always good to hear from you. Keep the faith and keep in touch!! <3

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