Dealing with a Sense of Collective Grief

The light through the window is orange — not the golden glow of a summer dawn, but the amber tint of light through smoke. If I step outside, the air tastes of ash, a bitterness on the tongue. 

Friends and friends of friends have lost their homes in the recent fires, a loss greater than things contained in walls. Some of those things once held memory, an emotional resonance that resides only in the head now. 

Add all the other disasters that have paraded through since the start of the year, leaving wakes of frustration, anger, and sorrow.

It weighs heavy. 

It’s hard to know how to process one’s feelings in times like this, when everything seems like wreckage. David Kessler describes this current feeling as a sense of collective grief — both for a world that’s changing dramatically and an anticipatory grief for “what the future holds when we’re uncertain,” which tends to manifest as anxiety.

Kessler provides several recommendations for dealing with this, such as letting go of what you can’t control, anchoring yourself in the present moment, and stocking up on compassion. “Keep trying. There is something powerful about naming this as grief,” noted Kessler, “When you name it, you feel it and it moves through you. Emotions need motion… If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we’re not victims.”

As I attempt to process my own complex vortex of emotions, I have found myself wanting to avoid dealing with my feelings by falling into distractions, online videos and TV that never quite provide the full measure of relief I need. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that — sometimes a break from this constant pressure is what’s needed.

However, I personally find that I achieve the greatest sense of relief when I approach the situation in a more grounded way — through journalling, mediation, reading a beautiful book, or running (the last of which I’m holding off on until the smoke clears).

For you, the ways in which you ground yourself and process these feelings may be entirely different. What are the methods that work for you?

(Photo by Yogesh Pedamkar on Unsplash.)

News About Twelve

The launch of my new chapbook is only 14 days away! As I sit here waiting for the exciting day, I decided to make a video showing off my author copies of Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale. I also talk a bit about the original “Twelve Dancing Princesses’ story and how it inspired me to start writing these poems.

I continue to be amazed and humbled by the kind things people are saying about Twelve, such as this review on The Biblioshelf:

"In Twelve, Andrea Blythe manages to pull off a modern retelling in spectacular fashion whilst retaining the elements of fairytales and storytelling which all of its fans love. Taking each sister one by one, Blythe dedicates each of the Twelve Princesses with their own unique voice and identity giving fresh substance and purpose to the once subservient, archaic damsels-in-distress in search of their prince.”

Preorders the book are still open at Amazon, B&N, and Indiebound. And, if you’re the giveaway loving sort, then you might like to know that Interstellar Flight Press is currently offering a chance to win copies of Twelve over on Goodreads.

Other Good Things

Rebecca Hart Olander and I discuss the flaws and snags of in an interview about her new book, Dressing the Wounds:

“Often I read poetry to gain something I don’t already have, to step into someone else’s shoes, to be urged into empathy for an experience I haven’t had, etc. With love poetry, though, I think what I respond to most is other poems that also admit to the flaws and snags of relationships. I mean, I’m happy for those who smoothly sail through their romantic partnerships, but since I don’t and am committed to staying in mine in all its truth and beauty, I’m not sure how useful it is to read that other kind of love poetry.”