“Meeting ourselves and allowing ourselves to be met”
Considering some of the important links between the experience of grieving and that of depression – separate conditions with some commonalities – facilitates a place where ‘meaning making’ and ‘continuing bonds’ after a death or a significant loss are created. The ‘continuing bonds’ theory suggests that our bond, attachment and connection with the person or people we are grieving continues on, as long as we are alive ourselves. Both concepts got me wondering about how we might develop our own ‘continuing bond’ internally and from this, how we might commit to acting on our learning? It seems that the relationship we have with ourselves as individuals, how we think about ourselves, the type of ‘self-talk’ we engage in is worthy of exploration. This may spark recovery, a working through the experience of depression or loss. Furthermore, it may allow ourselves to think more positively about who we are, more compassionately too.
As we slowly emerge – or perhaps more quickly for some – from the third wave of the pandemic, the place for hope, as it is genuinely experienced is critical in trying to make sense of the losses, forced adaptations, fundamental changes in our lives we have witnessed in our lives since the pandemic began. Whether shaped by experiences of grief or depression, what is clear from the past fifteen months is that our vulnerability, mutual interdependence, as well as resilience in its truest sense are central to our experiences in life. Additionally, it is through social connectedness something transformative can be channeled, to the benefit of our mental health and wellbeing, whether we are grieving or depressed or both.
Naming our thoughts and feelings, a core invitation held within the services and programmes at Aware, is a proactive and positive way to go about this act of ‘meeting ourselves’ in a different way. By reaching out a spirit of growth becomes fostered, which in turn is strengthened by the very nature of ‘allowing ourselves to be met’ by another person, a volunteer at Aware. By putting words on our experiences, we can experience post-traumatic growth and recover. I contend that potential for growth is applicable to experiences of grief, depression, and other mood related conditions. To conclude, the poet Emily Dickenson wrote that at times in life “we have to grow accustomed to the dark, when light is put away”. It is our responses to personal and familial loss or the experience of depression that the possibility for something transformative and hopeful emerges.
I encourage readers of this blog to read more about ‘continuing bonds’, with a view to facilitating connection within your social circles, family and otherwise, alongside a place to think about a renewal of our internal bond – getting to know ourselves a bit more personally.