Post Election Grief – How to Heal

Be glad, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because God is faithful. God sends abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. Joel 2:23 NIV

Great verse for Singing in the Rain but I’m not in the mood. I wish I was because it is definitely raining and my heart is drowning in a post-election shower.

And Facebook confirms I’m not alone. There are many walking wounded on both sides who have been beaten or bruised by this election and are lashing out at one another. However let’s apply a few basic rules we learned in preschool:

  • If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything
  • Treat others the way you wish to be treated

We all have friends rejoicing over the election, reaching out to us to say “everything will be okay” and “God is in control” because my candidate won.

Here are a few tips to our friends who are trying to help. Be careful. You do not have the authority to speak for God about suffering; or understand it. And it doesn’t help.

Relax:  The election is over. This isn’t the time to post all the reasons you voted for your candidate. Don’t be defensive because we don’t support your candidate. And an important tip to my white friends, it is not helpful or compassionate or even biblically sound to post on the wall of a friend of color that you are not racist, you simply voted for your faith. Yes, I’ve seen several of these posts since last night.

Everyone who experiences loss goes through the stages of grief identified by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression

Unfortunately these stages don’t work like a checklist, their order and timing is all messed up just like our divided Country. Your friend is grieving and hurt. Remember when we weep, God weeps.

You don’t need to say anything, just be present, tell them you love them and let you know if they need anything.

Grieving people are rarely looking to join a bible study, nor do they appreciate being hit with scripture or reminded of their blessings or to have their feelings minimized; they want comfort.  They want to know someone understands they are hurt. Just say OUCH!

Pray for and with us – “God be with my sister, hold her, love her and give her your grace. Bless our Country. Amen”

Telling someone who feels like they fell in quick sand that everything will be OK doesn’t help.  Stay in the moment, leave the future planning to God. Pray God speaks directly to them, that they will feel the Holy Spirit comforting them.

To my fellow grievers, time is the most important factor in surviving the emotional roller coaster of grief. And this is what I’m trying to remeber me during this time:

Like this post, I write out my hopes, dreams and fears in words or pictures.

I allow myself to grieve.  Crying is healthy. I cried myself to sleep and woke up crying. It’s not the first time nor will it be the last.  I left all those toxins on my pillow.

I’m trying to accept the reality that while I’m grieving, my friends are rejoicing. Let them rejoice.  You don’t have to unfriend them, just unfollow or suspend notifications for a while. It’s important to acknowledge how difficult your loss is, it’s equally important to accept other people have an alternate reality. Which is obviously the hard part which leads to the next phase in our lives with any hope of meeting in the middle.

I’m trying not to beat myself or anyone else up. Believe it or not this is my perfectionist default unhealthy response. It’s easy to start criticizing or blaming myself and looking for what I could have done different so I won’t repeat my mistakes without realizing I’m caught in the biggest mistake of wallowing in blame and guilt.

Self-confidence needs to be intact to heal and cope. Challenge every negative thought that goes through your head. Focus on the positive.

Taking refuge in your “cave” may give temporary comfort, but is little help if your time spent there is not constructive. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive family and friends may better help your self-esteem. I am very thankful for my family and thankful they know how to comfort someone who is grieving.

Taking action will help you feel more in control of your situation — I’m not sure what that action is but believe it will become clear. Simple words of sympathy and encouragement can be a huge boost in this difficult time.

Turn to people you trust for support

Share what you’re going through with the people you love and trust. Ask for the support you need. Don’t try to shoulder the stress alone. Your natural reaction may be to withdraw out of embarrassment and shame or to resist asking for help out of pride. But avoid the tendency to isolate. You will only feel worse.

And this is the end of my grown up moment. Love you all, even if we disagree.

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