Grief accompanies many life events, because it is the way in which we process the dual experience of Loss & Change. Many of us are mourning the outcome of the elections held in the USA on November 9, 2016. Guest blogger, Deb Radloff, eloquently addresses the issue of responding to grief expressed in online social media forums. Deb asks us to remember universal truths about the human condition; and to respond with the universal healing balm: kind, respectful, thoughtful words that are a comfort to individuals in pain, and strong enough to bind the wounds of a nation.
November 10, 2016
My friends ~ I want to see more non-violent communication online. So many of us are hurting right now. Much of the pain isn’t about politics. This isn’t about a disagreement over Conservative or Liberal policies, and it certainly isn’t about hating Republicans or third parties.
In an act of anger, half of this country decided they would rather elect an unprepared blow-hard – who spouts racist, sexist, bigoted, and xenophobic comments almost daily – than a highly qualified and imperfect woman they emphatically didn’t agree with.
People are scared, and need to feel heard. If we are going to move forward it must start with listening, and I know it’s difficult to deliver empathy in an online forum. We can’t see how our words are being received. I have read versions of the following statements on many friends’ posts, so I want to remind everyone:
*If someone expresses fear that his/her rights will be taken away: Please validate the feeling. Let him/her know you are here to be an ally. Please refrain from immediately responding with “Everything will be ok” – erasing historical evidence to the contrary, and his/her lived experiences
*If someone is afraid of increased discrimination and violence because of gender, sexual orientation, skin color, clothing choices, or immigration status: Please refrain from saying, “It won’t happen”; or that you personally aren’t racist/sexist/homophobic so, “don’t lump us all together.” These statements distract from the individual’s emotional/lived experience, and shift the post to being about your feelings.
*If a woman expresses frustration that she feels sexism fueled the vote, or feels afraid of a rise in sexual assaults, or fear of re-living past traumas: Please don’t erase her feelings with strawman arguments, such as, “This could have been avoided if Bernie had been the nominee.” or “Sexism has nothing to do with it, because I would have voted (or did vote) for a woman if the candidate had been a different woman.” These statements erase the woman’s experience of the world, place blame, and distract from the point she was making in the first place.
More than ever the women, POC, immigrants, and LGBTQ members of your family and community need your ears, and actions. It can feel exhausting battling micro – aggressive statements, gaslighting, and strawman arguments when all any of us are searching for is:
*That sounds so frustrating.
*Hugs to you
*I love you
*I stand with you
*I hear you
*If you need me I am here.
*How can I help? What do you need right now?
*You and I don’t agree on the candidates, but I hear how upset this makes you. Sending you a hug.
I know no one is intentionally trying to erase or minimize your friends’ and family’s feelings. I also believe we are at the beginning of change. I want us all to live free; have universal healthcare; have enough money to support ourselves and our loved ones; love how we want; pray how we want; and feel safe.
I stand with all of you. When we are through the pain, it will feel amazing to see how strong we are together. We must keep loudly and emphatically standing for what we want to see in the world.
Deb Radloff holds a B.A. Liberal Arts, University of Nebraska, Omaha, and an M.F.A. Performance, University of San Diego -The Old Globe. Deb is a Certified (200 hours) Yoga Instructor, and an empathetic communicator. Blog: http://www.findingyourwin.com