Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lent day 18

My day job took me to out to the school where the bus crash was today. We are providing some extra counselors for them for a few weeks. It's been nine days since the crash. I saw one teacher, and my co-worker saw one child. The regular counseling staff who are better known to and trusted by the kids told us they are talking to about six or seven kids a day right now. The last of the funerals was this afternoon. The biggest concern now is for the teachers who all seem to feel they need to keep up a brave front for the students and don't seem to think they can take any time off, even for their own grief. I encounter this a lot in my regualr counseling practice, among lots of people, this caregiving at any price. This need to "be strong" for others.

Since things were a little slow this morning I went back to reading Healing Through the Dark Emotions. I think Greenspan is right when she says we have "emotion-phobia" in our culture, with the ambivalence that tells us, as she says on the one hand to medicate our feelings out of existence any way we can, and on the other to express them at every opportunity. She suggests a third alternative...that by mindfully and consciously experiencing the so-called "dark" emotions of grief, fear and despair we will be released from the grip of their suffering. This book has been sitting around on my bookshelf. I bought it a while back and started reading it and then got distracted by the eighty other books I started reading. It floated to the top again recently, and, it seems, at a good time. There are some things going on right now that are engendering those very emotions in my life, and I am finding some of the things she is saying about them to be very apt and accurate. I am finding myself encouraged by her words to want to move forward in being mindful in entering into what is transpiring and embracing these "dark emotions" rather than running from it or trying to ease through it with a lesser engagement. I am not sure how much I will share here about the content, but I will try to talk a bit about the process as it unfolds if that doesn't prove too unwieldy.

One of my favorite quotes so far from Greenspan: "A culture that insists on labeling suffering as pathology, that is ashamed of suffering as a sign of failure or inadequacy, a culture bent on the quick fix for emotional pain, inevitably ends up denying both the social and spiritual dimensions of our sorrows."

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