Every one of us is losing something (or someone) precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.”

― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

This past weekend, I traveled to Wichita, Kansas. My Mom’s hometown. We traveled there to celebrate her life. She passed away on March 5, 2020 most likely due to COVID-19. We were unable to honor her death at that time due to the virus. Her 80th birthday would have been November 9th, so I chose this past weekend to celebrate her life with a small group of friends and family using all the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

My grief over the last eight months has been formidable. Losing my Mom, the last member of my family of origin has left a void like no other. I have passed back and forth through the stages of grief that Elisabeth KüblerRoss describes and are popularly referred to as DABDA. They include: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

“When someone is in your heart, they’re never truly gone. They can come back to you, even at unlikely times.“ – Mitch Albom

Grief has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. A smell, a song, a moment of stillness or a number on my alarm clock. It is a process and as much as I would like to to just go away, I linger in it.

This past weekend added a closure that I surely needed. A ritual of storytelling, pictures, music, laughter and tears. Yellow roses, her favorite, blue balloons the color of her eyes and a release of those balloons that formed a heart in the sky to remind us that she was near. It was beautiful.

The irony of the past weekend is that on Saturday, we got news that Joe Biden was elected to be the 46th president of the United States of America. I do have to say that is something my mom would have been very happy about.

The news spread through the small house on a lake that we had rented for my mom’s celebration. I watched as several of my family members secretly and quietly high fived each other, while others’ faces clinched. I could feel the tension. I think my older aunt may have moaned. The air was thick. That evening we turned on the TV to watch as Kamala Harris and Joe Biden made their speeches. The one remark that President Elect Biden said, “For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance,” resonated with me.

I could not help thinking back to 2016 and the upheaval and grief of so many people, particularly women when President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

In an op ed Christopher Ojeda, assistant professor of Political Science, University of Tennessee says, post election grief is real. He is a political scientist who studies how mental health shapes the way citizens think and engage with politics. He says, “People don’t typically talk about politics in the same sentence as grief and woe, but the two are more closely connected than we might realize.” He states that the evidence is clear: “Many Americans feel depressed after elections.”  Can you relate?

Ojeda, offers five actions we can take to help us deal with our post election blues

  1. Focus on healthy living
  2. Limit time on social media
  3. Seek out support
  4. Affirm the value of democracy
  5. Once you have accepted the outcome get involved in politics

You can read more of his thoughts and research here.

In this year of such upheaval, uncertainty and divisiveness we all have faced loss. Loss of the normal way of life, loss of jobs, loss of our chosen politician and many the loss of the ones we love. We all grieve something. Personal or political, we all face loss. Win or lose, living or dying, we all suffer in our lives. We are all disappointed even devastated when we lose something or someone we love and deeply care about.

This is life. This is living.

Grief and loss are inescapable. We all get to determine how we deal with it. It is my hope that we can do so with love, compassion and unity.

I leave you with Mary Oliver

“And that is just the point…how the world, moist and beautiful, calls each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. ‘Here you are, alive. What would you like to do with your one wild and precious life?”