on grief work

imageI am new to grief work. For me, much of grief work is recognizing that our individual first responses to trauma are the seeds of grief work. For me grief work is recognizing trauma does not have to contain who I want to be and transformation is reclaiming the parts of me that brought me joy as a child and continues to bring me joy as an adult. The paradox is comforting ourselves with the reality that there is no time limit for grieving though with support and processing, we might be more “at ease.” Better understanding these responses and later transforming them is what some of us may come to as grief workers.

Our first response is almost always for safety. We may learn to engage these first responses as we process trauma in spaces but it might extend into situations where they are not needed. This leads to learned conditioning that is like a false start to a triggering stimulus. This may actually make us more vulnerable: Beyond safety is relearning how to trust ourselves.

This is where community support is so essential. Yet, when communities are systemically devastated and we are reliant on “professionals” trained to avoid liabilities we may not be getting the right support. And it is likely a lot on family and or our long-term friendships.

Therefore, building ourselves up is as important as building community around us. Relearning to trust ourselves may be awkward and may shift dynamics in our relationships that may alienate us from those who used to give us comfort. Relearning to trust ourselves is tricky because modeling to not recreate oppression in ourselves is difficult. We may end up mimicking the abuser dynamic in order to reactively invert the power dynamic without proper support and feedback thus alienating ourselves farther. We need to also recognize that some people may not be able to hold space for us any longer and thus we need to conscientiously continue building spaces where we can be held and be held accountable and possibly even apply state services in a strategic manner.

It is a lot of work but it is necessary work.