When our people are hurting

Three mindful and powerful ways to support them.

The recent deaths within our Asian community in Atlanta, GA has rocked many minority and marginalized ethnic communities, people of color, women of color, and those of us in service industries. It has placed an increased weight on our shoulders of concern for our own safety, and for those we love. This post explores a few ways to support yourselves, and those you love during this time.

In our society, we prioritize verbal communication as a way to organize our world and selves, and so we tend to operate on the premise that there are always words to describe any situation. Yet there are times, such as these, when there are no words to describe what has happened. There may not be any for a while. In the aftermath of a major loss or crisis, we can experience shock, denial, or disbelief, and an overall loss of our sense of safety. In the face of this, we can help ourselves and others restore their sense of safety mindfully by cultivating agency and capacity in our relationships.

Agency refers to our ability to make decisions and choices for ourselves and our bodies, and within our relationships. And capacity- that inner knowing for how much we can hold psychologically, emotionally, or physically. In a crisis or loss, these essential birthrights can be taken from us. The path to healing then lies here- allowing ourselves to experience them again.

Here are three mindful and powerful ways to support your people, employing the tools of agency and capacity:
  • Let them know you are here to support them: A simple “I am here for you when you need me” is one of the most effective ways to communicate your availability, and care to another person. It tells the other that there is someone who will be an empathetic witness with them, and leaves the door ajar giving the other agency to open it further when they have the capacity to do so.
  • Create space for personal exploration without placing an obligation to share: In this space, silence and long pauses can communicate more than words. In the aftermath of a crisis our bodies and minds slow down, to help us process, re-orient, and re-organize. When we allow someone agency over their words and conversation, we help create space for the individual to explore their present moment in the fullness of their experience, and allow for re-organization.
  • Invite them to rest, where nothing outside of their capacity is expected of them: When we don’t have time to pause and heal after a crisis, we can become locked into a state of survival even as we continue on with our lives. In the midst of any strenuous activity or stressful event, we need respite- to slow down our breathing, regain focus, and evaluate what needs to be shifted or changed before we are able to continue. This is where we find recovery and prevent injury- in the spaces between. Similarly, in the aftermath of a critical loss or crisis, we need respite to regain a sense of ourselves before we can continue forward.

Relationships and conversations should always employ agency and capacity. These three practices provide us the opportunity to be mindful of ourselves and the other person as we all heal in the aftermath of a crisis.

Marielle Stair, LCSW, CAADC

Marielle Stair is an independently Licensed Clinical Social Worker and psychotherapist who works with trauma and healing through an integrative decision-making lens. She provides in-person and online counseling, licensed in the state of Georgia.

Contact us for a consultation!

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