Monday, January 28, 2013

Puddle Jumping

 Sometimes I wonder if my blog simplifies life into a succession of losses? While some losses are more predictable in nature, others are shock provoking. Then there are the neither anticipated nor catastrophe losses; the kind that leave you affected but lacking societal recognition. In terms of defined grief reactions this is sometimes categorized under disenfranchised grief. These types of losses are often experienced in an imposed isolation. Sequestered to the shadows to accommodate the discomfort of the many. Here are the grievers of miscarriage, suicide, divorce and separation, death of a pet, to name just a few. In actuality any loss can become disenfranchised grief dependent on how empathetic and validating your community (friends and family) is to your experience of loss.

To clarify, I do not go through life puddle jumping from one loss to the next and I am most definitely a glass half full person, however, we are exposed to more loss then we are allowed* to discuss or experience. Our losses like our joys enrich our time spent on this planet and enable us to grow introspectively and spiritually.  It can be a detriment to our personhood if we are encouraged to process this in solitude or nullify the pain of our struggle.

*by allowed I mean both what is recognized as acceptable or common experiences of grief (and what is not), in addition to the permission that is bestowed on us through cultural and societal norms.

So what the hell is this blog about anyway?  I am climbing down from my soap box resting on top of our death denying and loss denying society to explain.

I am in the last leg of my Master of Social Work degree and starting a new chapter in my career. With that comes an end to more than a decade of pursuing post secondary education.  Inevitably my degree will and already has had an impact on my identity - how I see myself and how I am viewed - while mostly positive I do still struggle with launching professionally from here.  It may not be easy to see the loss entangled in the accomplishment of obtaining a degree but they are there.  I have had "little losses" along the way, some examples: leaving a practicum that I loved, missing daily interactions with fellow students and friends, struggling with continuously changing schedules from one semester to the next and ending sessions with clients.  It may be part of the landscape inherent in the life of a graduate student and I am sure it can be argued that this is what life is all about, managing and navigating little losses but all the same I have found it hard.

What I am experiencing is the accumulation of these little losses - professionally, scholastically and personally - and it feels familiar and at times sad.  In this current experience with navigating loss I have been met by ambivalence, anger and misunderstanding but rarely empathy. Maybe we are all too caught up with our own stuff but I have been surprised at the absence of empathic gestures and communication. Correction, I am not surprised having been bereaved I already knew that the world fails to be empathetic, I am disappointed.  Out of disappointment I am reminded to be mindful of what I evaluate to be relevant, important and valid and in actuality I should avoid evaluating all together.

People come to every interaction with a myriad of stressors and experiences that influence how they respond and engage - empathy may be the starting point of forming a connection.

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