Happy Wednesday! Starting off June with a short week and heading towards that first day of Summer! Are you feeling the warmth kicking in and the longer days? Definitely in need of the extra doses of serotonin, that much needed hormone that boosts our mood and helps us feel calm. Is that exactly what you need this week?
May has been such a heavy one, really over the top heavy for me. The added grief of Uvalde and the babies that struck down while trying so hard to do everything right. It feels like there was no time to come up for air after Buffalo. It just feels like the last straw, the one that breaks the camel’s back.
We have all been carrying the reality of our worst nightmares and I don’t know about you, but I need a break from this sinking feeling. And yet, taking a break from grieving or from feeling the need to act can make me feel guilty. So, I just spin – I must act! I need a break! I must act…
But the really tough part is not really knowing where everyone else is in this process, this grief. It’s tough to break into conversation because I am not certain if the other person is open to hearing it. How do you know? What do you do while you are holding this in, waiting to spill it out to someone? And the hardest part for me, being alone in a society that is uncomfortable sharing this raw emotion. So what do you do?
How Past Generations Processed Grief
This is what we are talking about today: how past generations processed grief and what we can bring forward in our own lives. Taking a moment to understand what was done before and why helps to bring forward knowledge that may still help us, benefits us the way it has for generations.
Today’s episode focuses on cultural practices of the past that helped process grief. Generationally, the DNA is pulsing in you, regardless of where you live. It’s the nature vs. nurture discussion, but with a twist. Individually, we come hardwired. We are born with our personalities, our feelings and emotions and usually, these can be fed in our environment.
But, getting moved out or even displaced from the environment, disconnects that DNA from its natural source of support. The environment is no longer supporting the individual and instead, the person is left on their own to find support. If you add in the notion that wanting support is a stigma, then life may become unsustainable.
We need time to adapt to new environments, even if it’s changing towns for a new job. We are capable of figuring it out and thriving successfully. Even more so than much of the world’s species. But, when difficulty after difficulty occurs without time to access what we need or time to adapt to the new environment, then life becomes too hard.
We are not meant to do this life alone. We have found comfort in community since the start of civilization. So when tragedy strikes and grief sets in, what do you do? What have you learned from past generations and what still applies? And more importantly, how do you heal in a new physical and generational environment?
Cafecito Shout Out
As you’re thinking about that for a bit, I’m going to give you a head’s up on next week’s #steamycafecito moment. For any new listeners, this is our way of supporting small business in any community so if you have one in your neighborhood or a global recommendation, then DM me on our Life Lnxx Instagram or email me through our website, at TheLnxx.com.
I will be venturing out to a fab find in Oakland that is luring me out of my “don’t mess with my coffee” comfort zone to try their enticing lattes. I’ll tell you more about this amazing business at the end of the episode so stay tuned!
How Culture Shapes Family and Community
So, let’s get into today’s topic with a gentle hug first, un abrazo to share support and comfort. If this fits within your space today, I am very grateful for letting me in and will try to honor your vulnerability. If you are new here, I would like to give some context to the Latinx culture based on my own experience being raised here.
In past episodes, I talk about the love and comfort of the Latinx and Hispanic communities. The warmth of welcoming anyone into their homes, whether spontaneous or planned, is unparalleled. It’s a sign of honor when someone considers you so trustworthy that they will spontaneously knock on your door. This is a deep cultural lifestyle that stems from family and expands outwardly.
And family is everything, even extended family. Everyone close to the parents are considered tias and tios for the children. So much so, that as an adult you have to redo all the family trees you created in school because they’re wrong. All wrong. Basically, the “family” is a rainforest of tangled, beautiful species that has to get untangled to discover the true, original source.
As a child, you are surrounded by so many people looking after you that you feel safe and so loved. Especially, because in the community, kids come first before all others. Children are held close and really raised in innocence for as long as possible. Now, this can fly into some brick walls when you are trying to grow out of childhood and parents are trying to hold you back. But, really, it is out of love. A little fear, but mostly love.
So, between the extended sense of family and the focus on children from the start, the community is close knit. Within that type of community, emotions are shared, they are known, and rarely are you left to deal with them alone.
What We Learned About Grief From Past Generations
Which can be a good thing or a not so good thing… but again, love, mostly out of love.
In past generations, especially in a home country, the entire community would share the emotions with you. From celebrations to grieving, an entire community would know what a person or a family was experiencing through the outward display. Think of quinceañeras celebrating young women, and wedding processions through the towns. Everyone is involved, whether invited or not.
The same is true for grieving. An entire community would know when there was a death in a family. If a husband passed away, then the widow would wear black, for an entire year. If a man was grieving, he may have worn black or a black arm band for a year. Not just for the day of the funeral. But for the entire year.
This is really special because wearing black for an entire year says two things. One, it tells a community, even strangers, that the person is in mourning. A severe mourning over someone very close to them. This gives a heads up to others to be gentle with the person, to offer compassion and kindness and it creates space for them to grieve outwardly. The burden is lightened by removing it from the person already suffering and transferring it to the community to take care of them.
Two, wearing black for a year speaks to the time necessary to grieve fully. It’s not a day or a week, it’s a year to fully feel all the emotions that come up. It teaches children that harsh sadness can take a long time to get over, and that is okay. It’s okay and it’s normal for everyone. Even so, healing will last a lifetime. But, knowing that someone in your community has suffered a loss allows individuals to engage accordingly, supportively and kindly. No one is left to deal with grief alone.
How Did We Lose Community Support For Grief
So, if cultural generations have been living this process outwardly, normalizing grief and the time necessary to heal, then why has it disappeared here? Why do we expect grief to end the moment the news has passed?
Has this come up for you? I can’t help but feel it after May and it’s shocking to me that life carries on as if the complex emotions have passed already. If anything, new pain cuts deep and may fuel existing pain to rise up, adding to the amount of emotions.
In one generation, the ability to grieve outwardly in this country was lost in our family. My mother grieved for years after my grandmother passed. But, when I lost my partner suddenly, I sat alone with it after just a few weeks. Life went on for others. Wearing black meant nothing. If anything, it became a uniform for the tech bros.
So what happened in that time? The introduction of non-stop news. Yes, I blame Ted Turner and CNN. Sorry, Jane. With 24 hour news, media could hardly stay on one topic for more than a day. Competition for the next breaking news ramped up. People were being trained to dismiss what just happened and get excited for the next story.
Remember how the brain gets trained and takes over the soul? And how difficult it can be to reverse a brain’s habit? And all of this was exacerbated when social media came on. Ugh!
Still, the beauty of another generation rising is that it recognizes the disconnect. It sees the need to feel, to grieve and to have the freedom to live this outwardly as a community. So, we may have lost it but I really feel we are on the verge of bringing it back, thanks immensely to the next generations who are adamant to correct this misguidance.
What Traditions Still Work For Healing Grief
And thankfully, thankfully, we have more options for healing than generations before. Healing that can again be done outwardly, with community or just solo or with assistance or even all of the above. We are not held to generational traditions but we do learn from them. And in the case of healing, we can acknowledge that it takes time, that community helps make space and that helps individuals find a way to heal.
But, embedded in this goodness of culture, of different ways to access healing, can be some heavy handed pressure and silence. Traditionally, faith and family have been the resources for healing and at the same time, sources of conflict. So, how do we pull the goodness of cultural traditions, of faith and family, forward while leaving the angst behind?
Let’s take a look at the goodness first. Faith and spirituality can be a very strong base for healing. It allows a person to hand over the burden and pain to something greater, something not of this world or to ask for strength to endure the process. Faith also keeps a connection with those that have passed on.
Gathering with friends and family is a natural tendency even with different generations. Expectations may be different and expressions may get lost in translation but being held, providing abrazos, is a strong connection that allows for vulnerability. Being among loved ones allows you to let your guard down, knowing you will be held.
Yet, these cultural aspects can create pressure, guilt and even silence. All of which disrupt the healing process that they were supposed to do. But often when I see this happen, it has more to do with the personalities involved than the resource. So, maybe the disconnect is less about the faith, religion or spirituality and more about the persons acting through it.
Discovering a New Relationship with Faith
For instance, faith and spirituality provide a place to unload pain at any minute of any day. There’s no need for an appointment or coordinating schedules. You have the power to access it whenever you need it. Spiritual relationship is so personal and based on your unique soul, that really, no one can tell you it’s wrong or you are not doing it right.
You have the power already within you to hand the burden, the pain over to something else. There is no right or wrong way. There is no process to follow if it doesn’t resonate with you. The basis of faith has always been to be the best you can be without the expectation that this can be done successfully or done day in and day out.
I hear you. This isn’t what you’ve been taught. I get it and totally agree. But that’s the human teaching you how to apply faith and spirituality. It’s a human version which is no better than your own human version. So, practicing cultural faith, religion or spirituality to heal grief can still bring solace and comfort if you keep it intimate and personal rather than traditional and detached.
When it comes to family, then the generational separation can add to the disconnect. Each generation experiences trauma not only in their own lives but their parents. Did you know that babies in utero are affected by their mother’s experiences that their DNA changes immediately in response? Crazy!
After being both a daughter and now a mother, I get it. I can see how my mother’s experiences affected her and how that transferred into her parenting and affected me. Then the cycle repeats itself and with that, the disconnect of understanding what young people are going through relative to their own surroundings and experiences.
New Ways to Grieve with Family
We want to stop that ongoing generational cycle. Let’s find a way to clear the trauma in the moments we need to access healing. Family relationships can be a source of unconditional love to help heal.
Family is more likely to show up for you at any time, any day than others have time for, whether friends or professionals. Lean into family when the world gets too heavy or the sadness too deep. Try leaning in without words and just feel the warmth.
The same ordeals that created trauma in a parent’s life also created the empathy for a similar experience in their child’s. Try creating space free of traditional roles and view each other as individuals carrying pain. In that space, realize that you may both be grieving and that commonality is what helps heal.
Instead of relying on family to have the answers or validate feelings, see them as a source to just be safely held in. Abrazos or hugs go a long way in feeling safe. Feel the warmth of the person you are leaning into. Listen to the calmness of their breath and the rhythm of their heart. It can be hypnotic and meditative. In that space, allow the feelings to come up in whatever way your soul feels necessary. Give it permission to let go and hand over the pain, fear, strength and feel supported. Because, amigas, we can be so, so strong, almost too much. It’s in our DNA.
And yes, if we parents begin saying inane directives, it’s ok to tell us to be quiet. Remember for so long we have been dealing with chaos and struggle that we tend to redirect feelings. It’s not completely healthy but it’s how we learned to survive. Try not to give up on us. Help us learn to trust the process again.
Honestly, it doesn’t take much because as soon as we see the look in our children’s eyes, regardless of age, we want to hold our child, carry them back to pain free days of innocence. If anything, we are another vessel for our children to unburden their grief.
Changing Cultural Opinion of Mental Health Care
This is how culture can be lived, modernized and passed on generation to generation. Sharing stories of our ancestors illuminates what we have in common with them because of our culture. Then we add our own experiences, our own social impact and create the next version of our culture forward.
This is where next week’s episode chimes in. For as much as our traditional heritage can be modernized, we can add new aspects that were not a part of tradition. In the case of grief and learning to live through pain, mental health care was often stigmatized and denied. This isn’t just a cultural aspect though, it is a generational one, even here in the U.S.
So join us next week to learn why mental health care was off the radar and how it can be introduced into cultural heritage and passed on to future generations.
May your days be more gentle. May you find space to feel safe and let go of the emotions that are trapped within your strength. May we together be available for each other and embrace the grief together, heal together. Grief can rise from any experience like changing jobs, friendships ending, difficulties in relationship. Take time to process, to heal, to be reminded that grieving takes time, even a lifetime, and in that process there is still joy. Let go of the pain in order to embrace joy.
Aaah, I feel like we should meet up on a warm beach with calm waters and stare off on the horizon of beauty. A group exhale would be perfect.
Show Us Your Cafecito Moments!
Now, for the #steamycafecito moment. I hope you were following the hints on our Instagram Stories. If you missed our previous shoutouts of these amazing businesses, then you can find them on our Instagram highlights under the Cafecito icon.
In next week’s episode you can learn about the enticing cafe in Oakland, California. It’s a woman owned business that was created from the vision and desire for
So be on the look out in our Instagram stories next week for the sneak peek at this really different cafe.
Remember to tag Life Lnxx in your favorite cafecito moments, especially in your own neighborhood. I would love to see your favorites from our global audience. These coffee businesses are so personal it’s like walking into someone’s home where they are so proud to serve their creations.
Take a look on our website at TheLnxx.com for each episode’s transcripts and the articles linked to what you’ve heard here today.
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Step into your truth, ladies. I love you! Ciao!