Triggers, Joy, and Grief Contractions. And That Was Just Wednesday.

covid-19In a recent conversation with social justice trainer Aimee Brill, she talked about how intense conversations lead us to move from a triggered space to an open space, back and forth, an expansion and contraction. Another mentor and birth pro, Lanell Coultas introduced me to the term “grief contractions.” These words so beautifully capture the pain and pressure of grief, while also acknowledging that these sensations don’t last forever.

The more people I talk to, the more I see this expansion and contraction – this swiveling from hope to despair, from motivation to collapse, from optimism to overwhelm, and back again. No matter who you are, we are all living in a very triggering time with the Covid-19 outbreak. Watching the news can feel devastating. See people singing together in Italy can feel uplifting. There is so much going on in our minds and therefore bodies right now as we process these intense fluctuating emotions.

When people ask, “How are you?” I really don’t know how to answer these days. The truth is that I feel frustrated with online school, relieved to have everyone at home, annoyed at my lack of alone time, worried about my classes, excited about projects around the house, grateful for peaceful moments between my kids, and scared for the future. Each of these feelings pop up lack whack-a-moles, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours before moving on to the next one.

I also find that old tool of the Inner Critic rearing its ugly head – comparison. While other people on social media seem to be enjoying every moment with their children or finding ways to show up and support others, I find myself feeling inadequate. Inadequate and tired. It’s all too easy to forget that a photo or post is a snapshot of a moment in time, and not a holistic view of a person’s overall wellbeing.

If you’ve been feeling this way too, I invite you to notice the expansions and contractions in your own life. Notice the impermanence of your emotions. Notice the way feelings come and go, peak and taper, just like contractions. None of your feelings are bad or wrong. None of them are morally superior to others. They are all a reflection of the times we’re living in, and a small piece of the whole, perfectly imperfect person that is you.

Hang in there, friends.

All my love,


1 Comment

  1. Shelley on April 3, 2020 at 10:43 am

    What a perfect analogy. I have been thinking lately about how there is a difference between pain and suffering. This situation, at least some aspects of it, really stink, but I can choose to stay in the suffering story or I can let the feelings of pain and grief come and go. Instead of resisting them, I name them, thank them and then move to a better feeling thought. They never last forever, just like contractions. Mother Nature is kind. ?

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