Once I stepped into that space with invention and energy, I found a feeling that I had missed: Joy. I started asking myself how I can bring joy to those around me. So, instead of sending my friends articles and GIFs, I posted a dozen of gratitude letters and postcards. Instead of doing small-talk (‘crazy times, right?’) with neighbours standing six feet apart, I left notes in their mailboxes and beer in front of their doors. Instead of being sad for my local businesses, I emailed to ask what support they needed and who I could connect them with. I spent lunch hours helping local charities come up with new community strategies. I asked real, generous questions and was met with real, generous answers. People, you see, are magic.
The strangely beautiful aspect of the collective heartbreak we are going through, is that it brings an opportunity to redefine how we engage with the world and with one another. There is an opportunity for new social contracts. There’s space for creativity. There’s even space for joy. Little by little, I feel alive again, I feel whole. By serving those around me, I see that I do have agency to make things better. This is how we enter a new phase of the grieving process, according to Kessler – meaning. We can all create meaning for each other: In every Zoom reunion, in every WhatsApp call, in every moment spent with partners, family or flatmates. Essentially, in every moment of connection.
But how do we create meaning in these interactions? So much of our lives happen though a little screen right now, that it’s easy to forget that it’s not something we’re used to. We’ve never really done (that many) virtual birthdays, meetings, happy hours, yoga classes and book launches before. We forget that there are no rules around how these are done, but we actually need rules because hosting twenty people in a living room or having twenty people in a Zoom call is entirely different to design and… to experience. So, whether you host or participate in that next call, remember you have the power to design what’s most conducive to connection. Maybe you invite everyone to show their favourite art piece, wear Glasto outfits, or show embarrassing (obviously) pictures of their teens. In your work calls, you can invite your colleague’s partners for ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions. The same goes for that virtual Hinge date – you can make up rules, like asking some of the famous ‘36 questions to fall in love’ (until it gets at least a little awkward).