Honoring What is Lost
In this land of social distancing and self quarantine rowing has been postponed. I know of numerous clubs across the U.S. that have stopped practices and shut down their boathouses due to COVID-19. Major regattas have been cancelled, as well as the Olympics.
I certainly have no argument with any of the above, and no, this post is not about all the creative ways that you can find a work around at your boathouse in order to get on the water.
Single scullers may have an advantage these days.
God bless you if you are out on the water in pods of singles, rowing, sharing that joy from an appropriate social distance and then diligently disinfecting your personal shell at the end of your row.
No, this post is not about any of that.
This post is about the thing that no one seems to be talking about. In fact, it may be the thing that is the least talked about, especially in our culture. It makes people uncomfortable and it may be one of the most difficult emotions to experience and walk through.
Leave it to me to bring it up.
Here we go.
What have we lost?
We've lost rowing for now.
We've lost the Olympics until some time in 2021.
We've lost our in person social connections and conversations at anything less than 6 feet.
We've lost moments in restaurants and breweries and cafes (or where ever you choose to enjoy the beverage of your choice).
We've lost the much needed separation between parent and child, also known as school.
Some of us have lost our work.
All this loss, albeit temporary, adds up to grief.
Plain and simple.
So what does one do with that grief?
This is a big question. Everyone has their own approach to grieving. If you are someone who has experienced loss in your life, and this writer assumes that you are, you know that grief does not end, it just evolves.
One of the best books that I have read about grief and grieving is Martin Prechtel's The Smell of Rain on Dust.
Prechtel states, "Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses."
Grief is a normal emotional response to loss. What is this if not an experience of loss from numerous directions. Loss of social engagement. Loss of professional expression. Loss of connection to our rower selves. Maybe the loss of someone close to you.
So I ask you, are you talking about this loss and letting the grief roll thru you in honor of what has been lost?
Are you wailing at the loss of...(pick something) for yourself and others in praise of what has been lost?
Are you allowing yourself and the people around you to express that grief?
Are you letting that grief be heard and shared?
Are you asking others about their grief?
This is what we do not do well in this country. We do not express grief in a healthy way in general. We cover it up, we expect it to pass, we deny it and defy it.
We do not talk about it enough.
But the fact of the matter is it's here, and it's not going anywhere.
Like it or not it's a part of this experience we are all having now and it needs to be given it's due.
Grieving is an expression of how much the person or relationship or activity that we have lost has meant to us. Grief honors that element.
The act of grieving says "This mattered greatly to me, and I am changed by the absence of it."
This will pass, and who knows, maybe there will be boathouses opening back up in July or August.
I hope so.
Meantime, I challenge you to express your grief publicly, to a teammate you trust, or a coach, or someone maybe who has no connection to rowing. Write about it. Honor it. But be public about owning the grief in praise of what has been lost.