September has been a time of reflection, and, perhaps more so lately with the Ten Year Anniversary of 9/11. Poignant moments of loved ones at the memorial site in New York, celebrations of lives lived and lost and those sacrificed. I was especially moved by the felt sense of the human spirit in its capacity to comfort, mourn, rejoice, and celebrate. During times of such sorrow, there was also hope. This was not confined to New York either, rather, it spread throughout North America and other parts of the world. How do we possibly find hope when tragedy strikes?
Over the course of history, human kind has had an almost inherent capacity for rebuilding when devastating events occur. What does seem key to me, though, is the need for collective efforts, compassion from others, an outlet for expression and emotion, and the passage of time. However, time alone is insufficient. A call to action, translating feelings and thoughts into words, and creating a future narrative all seem critical for healing journeys. There is something about feeling movement, I think, that ignites an early sign of hope that life can be renewed, albeit different, but, nevertheless, that life can move forward. Acts of movement, to name but a handful, include honouring memories and loved ones in symbolic ways, being with others, doing what feels personally meaningful, reaching out to help others, volunteering, and taking time to be kind to yourself. Movement, in many senses of the word, helps shift guilt, remorse, distress, and prolonged mourning toward personal and collective empowerment, energy, and hopefulness.
This is not to say, however, that sadness and grief are extinguished, far from it. Instead, being mindful of the sadness when it comes, feeling it, and knowing that it is possible to move out of the sadness toward active living can be quite liberating for people. Hope is not intended to suppress, ignore, and dampen emotions and those times when a loss finds it way to the heart. It becomes a way for individuals to keep going. Part of the challenge that I experience with clients in the context of therapy is locating personally meaningful pathways and strategies that have the potential to provide hope for change, happiness, and living a renewed life. It is so different for everyone. It amazes me where hope is found. Therapeutic conversations of creativity, collaboration, exploration of life narratives, remembering, and identifying past and present moments of movement and energy combine for a personal pathway toward health and healing. People find their own sparks of hope, sometimes when least expected. An image, personal connection with someone, event, pleasant memory, and new life experiences replenish life when hope has been lost. Life rebuilds and gains momentum in planned and serendipitous ways!
The views expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the views of the CCPA. Dr. Debbie Grove is a therapist working in Edmonton, Alberta. To learn more about her, visit her web site at www.learningtolive.ca
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA