The Journey Out of Grief
Updated: May 28
This blog, invites you to join me and others in our collective decision to affirm what is good in life. Together, while we accept the changes that have been forced upon us, the hurt and suffering we have experienced and are still enduring, we are consciously choosing to nurture our own health and well-being and that of others. We recognise that many people like ourselves are grieving for what and who we have lost (see the blog). We are not only claiming our RIGHT TO LIFE, but taking the steps to ensure that come what may, we thrive, that our lives are rich, fulfilling and positive.
We invite you also to delve into the realm of possibilities: the tried and true ways that people have overcome formidable loss, adapted to significant change, found balance in their lives, new purpose, happiness and joy.
Our next blog in this series, is simply a catalogue of the recommended steps you can take to lift yourself and others out of the darkness, and into the light. Rather than remain stuck underground, we should be like water and rise to the surface. It's about taking care.
All of us have the capability to move from what you may perceive an awful space, such as we find ourselves in today, towards the life we wish for ourselves and one another.
. . . . . o o o o o . . . . .
Many people in Hong Kong (HK), like those in quite a few other places of the globe, are feeling hurt and are suffering right now. Some have been engaged in the consuming struggle against CCP's oppression, in favour of human rights and democracy for the city they live in. While some, like Martin Lee , have made this a personal and lifelong 'fight', others have been motivated by recent events, or injustices they see encroaching the HK way of life. HKers do feel affinity with the political struggles of those in the Milk Tea Alliance , with those who have struggled against repressive regimes in the past, and those currently doing so.
The grievous struggle of HK people has been going on for decades, though its most recent conflict with the illegitimate HK government really took off in 2019 after the Chief Executive Carrie Lam (CLam) tried to pass a law that would have allowed HKers to be sent for trial in mainland courts. This struggle gained worldwide attention. Then with the advent of the coronavirus outbreak that CCP and HK authorities allowed to spread through its international transport networks, the global Covid-19 pandemic was born.
While impacting how activists could safely protest, and diverting the world's attention, the health threat served to amplify amongst HKers the internal feelings of angst, of dread and fear, of rage and fury. Simply put, HKers feel they have had to contend with a double or even triple-whammy imposed by their own government first, and CCP second.
With many of these negative emotions pent up inside themselves for months at a stretch, it is no wonder that many HKers have felt depressed at times, stressed at others, that events were spiralling out of their control, or that maybe things were hopeless.
There's no doubt that we need to stay balanced during times of life change, but that has been quite a challenge lately! There’s a reason major life shifts that HKers have experienced can impact our mental health, and it comes down to how the brain functions. In a Talkspace blog we found support from professionals:
“When you change, it actually activates the conflict sensors in the brain and this causes brain chaos that we call cognitive dissonance,” Dr. Srini Pillay, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, tells Talkspace. “This activation of the conflict sensor becomes stressful to people.”
And not everyone is affected equally. Pillay suggests that personality determines how change impacts our mental health. For those who seek novelty, change is usually easier to swallow, while those who feel most comfortable with status quo will find life transitions more challenging.
The CCP's imposition of its draconian National Security Law, that CLam claimed at the time would only impact a "handful"of people has in fact had a negative and widespread impact on HK society - no matter how much pro-Beijing lawmakers and government advertising trumpet its supposed "necessity" or its unfettered "success".
It would be easy to blame social media and contemporary news agencies for stirring people's emotions up in such a way. It would also be easy to blame CLam for her government's lack of Science in dealing with the Covid crisis in the city, and for her persecution of political activists by the HK Police and Department of Justice under her watch. We could go on to lambast CCP for its nonchalance, its brutality and disregard of international law and social conventions. However, none of the finger pointing or blaming is likely to immediately end or salve the hurt and suffering of HK people.
Need we remind you of how many people have already uprooted themselves from the city and fled to other lands because they could no longer see a future in HK, or didn't feel safe here? We could tell you about how the careers and professional ambitions of so many HK people are, for whatever reason in tatters - whether they be Police, civil servants, medical workers, teachers, journalists, or law makers. How about the dejection of HK youth who sense their future in the city in only pessimistic terms? I won't even begin to consider the financial cost to businesses shuttered, or forced to operate under difficulty first due to Police and protester activity, and secondly to the extended covid restrictions.
Much worse than Alice's misadventure down the rabbit hole as described by Lewis Carroll, what HKers have experienced is a torturous journey - a kind of nightmare! At times it has seen them running from what what they most feared, deeper into a labyrinth from which they could not easily escape. At other times, exits blocked and compromise with authorities elusive, there were weeks of standoff. Then the freedom fight would spontaneously take off on another action, another route into the unknown where we now find ourselves.
Globally people hope for a return to "normal", but as we have written, such hope or yearning for what we have lost these last couple of years may be in vain. While the U.S. or even the UK may celebrate its vaccination success today, many nations still struggle with new covid mutations, overwhelmed medical facilities, strained distribution networks, and fractured economies. It is all too easy to forget that life in a bubble is an artificial connivance, and that bubbles can and do burst.
Since the pandemic induced a paradigm shift in global consciousness, we must not lose sight of the fact that all living creatures on earth are interconnected and interdependent.
Sometimes in HK there was a feeling of progress, a sense that the looney CCP narratives were crumbling, that those in power were losing ground and losing face. At other times, on reflection, any indication that authorities were yielding on the protesters' 5 demands looked very tiny on the distant horizon. True, there has been good news: the occasional court case won by pro-democracy activists, yellow ribbon businesses standing up for what is right, U-turns made by government over discriminatory covid policy, support from international quarters. Still, in the grander scheme of things, we each must come to terms with events in HK, and across the globe as they unavoidably impact us.
We cannot travel easily. Most people find they cannot change their employment easily, and many have lost their job. Our individual financial circumstances are likely to be less secure than they were before the pandemic came along. Social distance has strained our familial bonds with relatives and connections with friends.
Thanks to the NSL we cannot as freely express our discontent, or wishes or our hopes for governance in the way we used to. Many freedom fighters are facing tenuous legal battles, and quite a number in HK are already incarcerated. Down the CCP rabbit-hole that is HK, there is a pervasive NSL stench of threats and intimidation, arrests and investigations, white terror that has lead to self-censorship and heightened anxiety.
Clearly many of us are in a state of grief right now. Some are feeling a bit depressed, and others have symptoms of PTSD.
As psychologist and therapist Nick Wignall says on his helpful grief website, '...grief doesn’t have to be about death and it doesn’t have to involve another person. It doesn’t even have to be “big” or even what most people would consider significant.' Many of us will recognise the physical, behavioural and emotional symptoms he characterises as part of grief. In dealing with our grief he says that grief is a highly individual process, as unique as the people experiencing it. Everything from our personal histories and culture to personality traits and temperament affects how we experience and cope with major loss in our life, how we adapt and find a new beginning.
. . . . . o o o o o . . . . .
I make no apology for painting such a dark picture.
If you agree with some or all of this blog then it's time to begin your journey out of grief.
You could start with a notebook, a few minutes of reflection, or a discussion with friends.
Just be aware of the negative stuff, and remember your right to life is never going away!
Twitter: Dalai Lama
CCP please answer the following UN letters sent to you:
Please read these blogs about the health of HKers:
+ Good grief, what's going on?
+ Taking Care
+ All is well!
+ Hong Kong seeks viable 'bubble'
+ HK's failing COVID-19 vaccination program
+ Health#1 (part2): using our natural good health powers
+ Speak to truth and reconciliation
+ Feelings rising to the surface
+ Mental health crisis: 'joy' of HongKongers suffering: new identity, democracy and future
+ First Aiders are targeted by HK Police!