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Grief ~ navigating changed relationships after lockdown.

This year has been a journey of change for many of us. Each new level of freedom redefining how we can live our lives, with some changes only temporary and some suggesting more permanent changes. At each stage we may find ourselves appreciating something different about ourselves, the way we connect with friends over coffee, feeling good about a job well done, or being with friends, celebrating the things we are good at, and appreciating the spaces where people view us with respect. Maybe just enjoying the way friends, family, activities, hopes and dreams leave us feeling. Sometimes though we notice the grief of what is missing what is absent over this time, and it's not always things that we think of when we talk about loss and grieving. Many losses are quiet.

At the simplest level anything that suddenly disappears may add to our sense of unsettledness, or our sense of belonging. Who we are at work, on the sports field, our identity as travellers, yarn-tellers, parents, may have been disrupted, sometimes indefinitely. For some families there are more difficult scenarios, loved ones overseas, career changes, uncertainty. While at a national level there is a sense that while some things have stayed the same, some things will remain changed at the end of this pandemic.

One of the undercurrents of 2020 and the unprecedented changes we have collectively lived through is a sense of grief. Grief not only in the loss of loved ones, and the challenges of mourning those losses with others, but multiple strands of loss, multiple places where our sense of who we are, and the things that are important to us have been put on hold, or threatened by the change all around us.

Sometimes Grief is missing a person that was fundamental to our world, and the adjustment to taking them with us, having their memory in our lives, differently. But there are also other griefs, less obvious that affect us too. Most of these changes impact how we see ourselves, or are a letting go of values, hopes and identity that were precious to us.

Narrative Therapy talks about Re-Membering those people or understandings of ourselves that we have lost back into our lives. Bringing how and who we were with them back into our everyday lives. It recognises that we didn't stop being a great friend when the person we cared about had to move away. Our resourcefulness or job skills didn't cease to exist when the job did, even though we may have lost touch with them.

Re-Membering is a process of uncovering what it was that defined us in the relationship, what was precious and re-weaving it into our understanding of who we are today. We may be left grieving the loss, and having to accept that activities, jobs or hopes are lost, but still connecting with what the person or thing) gave to our lives. Deliberately choosing what we hold onto from that relationship or what we are searching for as we pick up the pieces so that we keep hold of who we are across the changes.

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