Wellness Corner: Offering Comfort and Tools for Our Collective Loss

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Dear Mercersburg parents and guardians,

Mental Health month starts this Friday, and it could not come at a better time. The grief and loss this crisis may have created for you personally and for us collectively is very real. You may be experiencing a range of other emotions as well. As a result, we would like to extend an invitation to any parent who would like to gather together next Tuesday evening, May 5, to process your experiences, as parents, at this time (invite information at end of this message).

For most of us, spaces like waiting rooms, parking lots, empty warehouses, rest stops, stairwells and vacant school facilities, produce  weird and anxious feelings if we spend too much time there. This is because these “liminal spaces” exist solely for what is to come before and after them; a place where we go while on the way to somewhere else. Our brains like things to be in context too and that is why experiences like being awake at night when everyone else is asleep (or standing on the graduation platform before it’s time to graduate) might feel disorienting and wrong. 

With any crisis, there is a known process we go through that includes a liminal space. It begins when the ground breaks beneath us and our lives become changed. The next phase is that challenging space we enter, which is the time between what was, and no longer can be, and what is not yet. This grueling part of the process, that we are all in right now, can sometimes take a long time, which might be a good reason to try to ignore or avoid it. 

The truth is, it is okay and potentially very helpful to stay in certain uncomfortable spaces, at least long enough to name what it’s like to be there. Grief may be one of those experiences right now, especially for seniors and parents of seniors. As a personal example, I got out of bed the other night because I was restlessly tossing and turning. I knew I had been holding in a wave of sadness and worry about many things. Within a few minutes, I was weeping over a glass of warm milk. What followed, interestingly enough, was a sense of RELIEF for having accepted and allowed for what was there for me. 

I also found myself thinking creatively about how much I would love to create a space for others to find that same opportunity for relief (even if a little bit), by discussing and exploring what’s happening for you as we shelter at home. We also have an idea to share that would be a visual and musical way to thank your child’s teachers for all their efforts.

Please allow us to invite you to a virtual group meeting on Tuesday, May 5, at 7:15 p.m. EDT with me, Susan Rahauser, director of student counseling services, and Jennifer Sipes, school counselor. This gathering is not meant to be a question-and-answer forum about school planning or decision making, but rather a chance to be together in this unexpected space of uncertainty. If you have interest, please send me an email, and I will put you on a list to receive a Zoom invite. I look forward to hearing from you. 

I’m also sending these helpful links:

Grieving the Losses of Coronavirus

Supporting Teenagers and Young Adults During the Coronavirus Crisis

Susan Rahauser, M.S., NCC, LPC
Director of Student Counseling Services