Friday, April 17, 2020

Between Gratitude and Grief

I shouldn't be writing today. 

I should be packing CDs, getting an oil change, confirming concert details, 
and making a checklist that includes "don't forget socks!"
(a detail learned from experience...)

I should be getting ready to pack the car for our two-month, five-province 
10th Anniversary East Coast Tour. A time of music, celebrating and joy!

But that was before the world fell apart.

Instead, I'm home. 

My fridge is full, my family is healthy, and I have a comformable roof over my head. 
I have a lot to be thankful for. 

But I also have an empty tour calendar, an unclear vision of the future, 
and unexpected waves of anxiety over the safety of our world.

My emotions are a mess these days.

Can anyone else relate?

These days, I'm swimming between Gratitude and Grief.

Many psychiatrists have spoken about this season as being one of grief and trauma. 
No two mourning experiences are ever the same. Our symptoms come from the same list, but we're each having our own unique struggle.

For some, it's the loss of human connection and the everyday movement of society. For others, it's a loss of work, productivity, and purpose. And for far too many, it's the nuts and bolts grief of losing loved ones to a deadly virus, coupled with the pain of mourning in isolation.

Our talented friend, Drew Brown, recently wrote about the pandemic bringing up "new waves of grief" as we all find cancelled events and holidays popping up on the calendar. 

This resonated deeply with me. Our East Coast Tour has become a treasured part of our year. We love - and I mean, LOVE!!! - this annual tour. It grounds and spiritually renews us.

Yes, there's the financial loss, and that's difficult and significant. But there's more than that.
We're missing brunch with my family, my cousin's graduation, and galavanting about town with my childhood BFF. I can't quantify that loss, and I know I'm not alone in this. Many of you are missing weddings, reunions, and all kinds of special occasions. This is the stuff of life! Real, in the flesh, hug your loved ones kind of life. It's great to connect online, but certain moments are built for human contact. We need to acknowledge these losses, and take the time to mourn them. 

But in saying that, I'm so thankful for technology! I'm thankful for churches who are struggling with a learning curve to connect us in worship and prayer. I'm grateful for open-minded senior parents who are trying Skype and Facetime for the first time (I'm looking at you, H&H!) I'm grateful for musicians, writers, and theatres who are finding new ways to uplift us with their inspiring art.

And once I get thinking about it, I start to feel a rush of gratitude: for neighbours, who offer to pick up necessities on their grocery run. For our Canadian leadership, and the countless ways they're working to provide us with clear information and financial support. For the beauty of spring and its promise of new life...

But then, right there, I get hit by the wave again:
We're in lockdown. 
This is not normal. 
A deadly illness is attacking our world. 
People are dying....

And just like that, once again, 
I find myself swimming between Gratitude and Grief.

This mess of feelings that doesn't make sense, doesn't feel good. 
These emotions that clash against one another in an endless cycle.
It's exhausting.

But maybe... what if... just for now... 
What if living in this clash, in this mess of feelings, is our new normal? 

After all, isn't the mess where most great things happen?

We all love the boldness of the grand finish. We all appreciate the clarity of an obvious loss. 
But isn't it in that in-between space where most of life actually happens? 

Struggle and overcoming happens in the mess. 
It's where we grow, expand our perspective, and discover new views of the world. 
It's in the mess where we learn compassion, empathy, and generosity.

Maybe this mess of Gratitude and Grief is exactly where we need to be right now?

Maybe it's only in this space where we can gain the fullest and most loving perception of our reality?

It's good and right to mourn with those who mourn. 
It's also good and right to give thanks in all things.

So, today, I invite you to take a deep breath. 

Recognize the things you've lost. 
And then, give thanks for the blessings around you.

Please join me, in the space between Gratitude and Grief. 

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Like many artists, our livelihood has been decimated by COVID-19.
Please consider partnering with us in this difficult season:


hgh said...

Just WOW!

Louise Shull Walker said...

Thank you Allison for your beautiful essay. This is a very difficult time for so many. To find the good, the beauty and the peace in this situation is a gift. God bless you, and I pray that you and Gerald will soon be able to continue your work, which brings so much joy to others.

Allison Lynn said...

Thank you so much <3 Stay safe!