Below is a short discussion inspired by the episode "On Grief and Finding Meaning" from Unlocking Us with Brené Brown.
We’ve lost so much to the pandemic, but we can find meaning in it. We can make the deaths, closures, and cancellations mean something by being kinder people, building closer communities, and developing a deeper appreciation for life.
In this episode of Unlocking Us, writer and grief counselor David Kessler talks to Brené Brown about ‘meaning’ in our grieving process. After we come to terms with our loss, we make meaning out of it through the values and lessons we gain. This heals some of the pain by letting us know that something good was made from what we lost.
How can we make meaning in what we’ve lost?
- Count our blessings. Gratitude for what we can still do and still have helps in reminding that we can still create meaningful moments in a pandemic.
- Witness each other’s grief without judgment. We all grieve differently. Judging only isolates us in our grief. When we take care of each other, we come together in our pain.
- Show appreciation for people around you. “Thank you” is another way of saying “what you did meant something.” When we remind each other that our kindness has meaning, we empower togetherness in our community.
Making meaning doesn’t heal all the pain. Some pain will remain. This is the pain that reminds us of how much what we lost meant to us. We have to feel this pain to fully grieve our loss. We can help each other through the pain that remains by coming together and taking care of each other.
the distilld lessons
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by the episode “On Grief and Finding Meaning” from Unlocking Us with Brené Brown.
In his work as a grief counselor, and through his loss as a father, David Kessler discovered a new stage of grief: meaning.
Grieving isn't a linear process. The stages are descriptive, not prescriptive. They only describe how we would normally grieve. They don't describe how we should.
Grieving isn’t a simple step-by-step process that once you’re done with one step, you proceed to the next. It can be messy because people and feelings are complicated.
We can take our time when dealing with loss. Grieving can be a long process and there’s no deadline set for us to be healed.
The meaning isn't in what you lost. Your loss isn’t a test nor a blessing, and they have to be for you to grieve properly.
We create meaning from our loss. When we see our loss for what we can gain from it, we make meaning in our grief.
Meaning is a cushion. It takes pain away, but not all of it. Some stay with us in our grief. To heal the pain that remains, we have no choice but to feel it.
Letting ourselves feel isn’t an indication of weakness, instead it can make us feel in control.
Nothing good will come out of playing the game of “who has it worse.” In dealing with our losses, we should focus our energy on cooperation, not on comparison.
When we allow each other to be in pain and help each other heal, we can weather this pandemic. Through one another, we can create meaning in our collective grief.
- Be patient with yourself when you grieve. You can accept your loss and sometimes still feel depressed. It’s all part of the process.
- Make meaning from your loss. Take the lessons from what you lost and use it to help yourself or other people. Make your loss mean something. Let it be the cause of something positive.
- Don’t compare losses with others. Everyone grieves differently. Nothing helpful comes out of thinking whether others have suffered losses worse than yours. Energy should be focused on helping each other get through loss.
- Cherish the little things. We should make the most out of meaningful moments shared during the pandemic. Having the perspective of positivity and gratitude will help us through some of the pain of what we’ve lost.
For a more in depth conversation, the distilld lessons (extended) are here.