Grief and loss

April 14, 2017

Originally published in the Hufington Post

Debilyn Molineaux. Reprinted from Huffington Post.

Sitting here on a rare sunny day in the Pacific Northwest, I stop to reflect on life…and death. It’s been a long winter followed by a rough spring for me in Oregon. Among my work teams, we’ve lost a beloved mother, mother and father-in-laws, family friend and family pet in the last month. People we know have been diagnosed with cancers with varying treatment plans. Major change is obviously afoot. Somehow, we manage to continue working as a team through it all. Projects may take a little longer. Words come more slowly. Our compassion is engaged and we step up when others need to step away.

Somehow, I can’t help but feel our communities are also going through a rough spring. We seem to have lost our ability to talk to each other as if we are human beings with feelings and needs and contributions. I’m sensitized to the dehumanization we see on the news and social media — over and over again. What are we supposed to do? How can we feel anything but helpless? And I reflect that this is exactly why I am involved with Living Room Conversations, where sometimes all we start with is our shared helplessness and then we find a way to be with each other, listening deeply.

I follow a philosophy that what we focus on, we feed and grow in the world. I consciously focus on the silver linings, the lemonade and the small acts of kindness. But there are times when intervention is needed. How do we decide what to do and how to do it? And will our fellow human beings join us or fight back? It’s questions like these that I bring to my friends and community members – in small groups having Living Room Conversations or in everyday interactions. As we try to understand the world, the community and our roles in it, I am pondering where we have influence to make change and where we need to let go and accept the change that is happening to and around us, without our permission.

Change happens all the time. And my resilience is strengthened by the quality of my relationships — personal and professional. Actually, many of my relationships are a mix of both and it’s nice to be seen as a whole person inside of my work. As we look to strengthen our communities and our country, it is my hope that we focus and grow the quality of all the relationships in our lives, and move forward together. That would be a great silver lining to the rough spring for all of us.