Some spiritual and religious leaders are already talking about a new consciousness and a spiritual awakening arising from so much suffering and death here and worldwide. I, too, am talking about a new manifestation of the human mind and spirit, but we’re not there yet. First, we have some grieving to do, alone and together, in tears and in anger. We as a nation have not yet shared sincere, heartfelt, collective grief.
Have we fully acknowledged the pain and horror of nearly 120,00 Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. and 460,000 deaths worldwide?
Have we yet deeply mourned the systemic racism on which our country was founded and the ways institutionalized racism has oppressed African Americans since before the nation’s founding?
Have we shed tears for those who are not served by our capitalist system, who remain impoverished generation after generation, who will never have the full human rights of medical and mental health care, education, food, and housing.
Have we cried out in anguish at the ways our democracy has been threatened through gerrymandering, voter suppression, disenfranchisement, foreign interference, dark money, corporate lobbying, and disinformation campaigns?
Have we truly grieved the losses we face as the earth’s climate changes causing destructive weather events, disease and famine, loss of biodiversity, and the likelihood of violence as earth’s resources become scarce or poisoned or both?
No, we have not yet grieved enough, despaired enough, mourned enough, wept enough.
“Why is this necessary?” you might ask. “Can’t we just get on with our lives?”
Yes, we will get on with our lives but first we must grieve: Grieving is the first step in the healing process. Grieving remembers and celebrates lives that have been lost. Grieving is cathartic, emptying us of all illusions. Grieving honors and affirms our broken-heartedness. Grieving allows us to feel hopeless and makes space for new hope to arise. Grieving humbles us and returns us our humanness and common decency.
Pause each day to remember the dead. Say their names. Call an out-of-touch friend or family member and grieve together. Attend a rally or march and express your grief with anger. Build an altar dedicated to those who are threatened, sick, or dead. Light a candle of hope in the darkness.
Let us grieve so that we may heal — then a new consciousness and a spiritual awakening might arise and fill our hearts.
Photo: Joseph Perkins Road, Norwich, Conn.