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  • Lara Krawchuk, LCSW, MPH

Wisdom from a Grief Sherpa: Finding Our Way in Uncertain Times

This morning I awoke to the sounds of birds chirping outside my window. It was beautiful. So familiar and normal. Like little jewels to the ear. I cherished the sound. This was the sound of before. When birds chirped, I made coffee and carried it to the porch to savor. Took photos of my dog enjoying the morning air and posted them to Facebook. After a while I would head inside, make breakfast for my kids, send my spouse off to work, and prepare for my own busy day with clients at my beautiful office on a park. Life was full, I mostly felt very lucky and things made sense. That was the before.

Now is the after. The virus came. Unleashed, like an avalanche, in a world we used to know. Sorrow and worry thrum like pulses in weary heads. Uncertainty rules the land. Nothing is clear or makes sense.

So, how can we begin to make sense of our lives in this time of profound uncertainty, loss and sorrow? What is the meaning of a life upended by a virus? How do we find our way when the path feels utterly obscured? I am frequently asked these kinds of questions by clients in my psychotherapy practice. Perhaps sharing some of what we typically explore will help you now.

Most importantly, I never claim to have answers. Both questions and answers are deeply unique to each individual. There are no set rights or wrongs. I am not a wizard with magical answers to big questions, but more like a trusted Sherpa. I offer experience and knowledge about navigating challenging emotional terrain. I can help show the way, point out known obstacles, lend a hand when the path is uneven, carry some weight in my pack if fatigue sets in, but ultimately every human must find their own way forward. I trust that you can do this!

The first, and often scariest, part of any emotional journey is to name and claim your struggles. Please know that, as scary as it may be to authentically name what you feel; it is always for the best. Avoidance leads to failed journeys. Honoring your emotional truth lights the path to where you are heading.

Remember that you do have choices! Even in the midst of great uncertainty you can choose to honor emotional pain and also embrace joy. This is a key skill for thriving now. All parts of you are welcome. I invite you to honor your both/and with this simple exercise.

A) On one half of a piece of paper list all of your “tough stuff”. No need to think. Just write. Nothing is off limits. No need to compare your stuff with anyone else’s. Stop and deeply acknowledge your truths. Share it with someone who cares about you. No fixing required. Simply listen. Relish the moment of connection.

B) On the other half of your paper list all your “good stuff”. Anything that bring a smile to your lips, peace to your heart, calm, compassion, creativity, love, hope. It is all welcome! Stop and deeply acknowledge this truth! Share it with someone who cares about you. Share a laugh or a good cry. Relish the moment of connection with your loved one.

C) Now take a moment to reflect on how you might invite all your emotional truths to co-exist. Gently work to develop the skill of shifting gracefully. Honor all parts of your experience.

D) If you want to go deeper, take your lists and build upon what you have discovered. Invite yourself to collage, paint, draw, write, meditate, move, sing, pray. Whatever feels right to you. The beauty is in the doing.

Making sense in uncertain times full of losses can be challenging, but it is infinitely possible.

Today I too honor my many emotional parts. I sit bundled under a blanket on my favorite deck chair with my beloved dog at my feet. The world remains in chaos AND the birds are still chirping. Lovely sunlight illuminates my keyboard. Concerns continue to thrum in my head AND I am grateful for a truly beautiful day. I am struggling AND profoundly ok. I honor my truth. There is comfort in this.

Sometimes we need a little help naming, claiming, and making sense of the tough stuff. If you, or someone you love, is struggling with sorrow or worry in this time of uncertainty remember that help is near. Simply call us at 610-209-3111 or email Lara athealingconceptsllc@gmail.com. We would be honored to support your journey towards healing.

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