Picking a Place to Start - March 2, 2021

While it is healthy to acknowledge the gifts and blessings that are a part of our life we want to make sure that we are not ignoring or minimizing the stress, loss and trauma that we have experienced.

Posted
March 5, 2021
Graphic of gears turning and hand holding tools to tune up

Picking a Place to Start - March 2, 2021

While it is healthy to acknowledge the gifts and blessings that are a part of our life we want to make sure that we are not ignoring or minimizing the stress, loss and trauma that we have experienced.

Posted
March 5, 2021

Be patient.

With your body.

With your time.

With yourself.

JFS Friends – 

I have started to hear friends, relatives and colleagues express guilt or shame for struggling to cope with recent events. I have heard people say things like, “I didn’t have it as bad as others did”. While it is healthy to acknowledge the gifts and blessings that are a part of our life we want to make sure that we are not ignoring or minimizing the stress, loss and trauma that we have experienced.

The recent weather event was not the first stressor our community has faced, we had already been living with the stress of COVID for a year and the losses associated with missed or altered life-cycle events. We have been living with the fear of getting sick and – for many – the reality of ourselves or someone we love being sick. We are living with the constant strain of making decisions about how to conduct our lives in order to stay safe while at the same time try to educate our children, go to work and be a part of our community. All of this is to say that no one needs to justify their suffering or be ashamed when they are struggling to cope. We are no less worthy of needing or asking for help just because we have not experienced a catastrophic loss. The cumulative impact of multiple stressors over time can be just as devastating.

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation -- either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.

King’s desire to turn his suffering into a creative force is inspiring but it is important to remember that it came after recognizing the suffering that he had already experienced.

The author S. Kelley Harrell advises us that:

“We don't heal in isolation, but in community.”

I find her words to be so wise. The healing process can often be aided by finding a community of support who can hear and acknowledge our experiences and provide support while we find our path forward. In Jewish tradition, there is a prayer “Birkat HaGomel” that is said when someone survives a dangerous journey or recovers from a serious illness. The prayer is most commonly said during the Torah service in front of the congregation. The tradition acknowledges that there can be healing power in acknowledging the experience publicly and then being able to give thanks for surviving.

For each person, the healing process will be a little different but I encourage each of you to consider finding a place where you feel safe to acknowledge the suffering that you have experienced and allow a supportive community to hear and acknowledge your experience. For some of us this may be a support group, for others it could be psychotherapy, an EAP session or opening up to our close friends. Whatever feels right for you I think it is important to remember that we often heal better in community.

Remember, there are caring and concerned people in your life that are ready and willing to help but they can’t always know what we need or want if we are putting on a brave face all the time and not sharing with them when we are hurting.

Wishing you the courage to ask for and receive the help that you need to manage the ongoing stresses that are part of our world right now.

Take care,
Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

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