What do you need right now?

By Annie Gonzalez Milliken


Grief is messy. Very messy.

What do you need right now dear ones? How are we going to get through this? Maybe you’re in shock. Maybe you’re pissed as hell. Maybe you’re weeping. Maybe you’re numb and trying to do all the normal things. Maybe you’re hiding in bed. All of these reactions are totally normal. There is nothing that makes this ok, because hate is not ok and greed is not ok and violence are not ok. Electing a president who is overtly racist, sexist, violent and endlessly greedy is not an ok thing to do. We all know these next four years won’t be ok. And yet, paradoxically, we keep going. So what do you need right now dear ones? Find the things you need here and leave the rest for another time. You can keep coming back to this list as your needs change.

Are you seriously desperate? Please call or text a loved one or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or text the Crisis Text Line (Text START to 741741 from anywhere in the USA). You are loved beyond belief even when that feels completely at odds with your lived experience.

Are you struggling with anxiety and how to care for yourself? First, make sure you breathe. Keep breathing. Try a mindfulness exercise. My favorite is a five sense meditation. You sit and breathe and slowly notice five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Also here's an interactive self-care exercise that will take you through simple tasks one by one. Don't forget to drink water, eat food preferably with some nutritional value, sleep if you can, move your body and go outside. Set alarms to remind yourself if you need to. I left my house this morning without eating breakfast or drinking coffee and I NEVER do that. Even when my daughter was a newborn I kept my morning ritual. We're all struggling so be gentle with yourself and just do as much for your body as you can.

Are you feeling confused about your grief? Grief is indeed a confusing experience. There's a classic model of grief that posits five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But I find this model below even more compelling. You may be bouncing around between a wide range of emotions and that's totally understandable. Grief is different for everyone and a complex process.

Do you need to be in community? Isolation is a normal impulse and it can also be an unhelpful one. Many UU churches are opening up their buildings for vigils and lament and pastoral care. Find a UU congregation near you. Or use this state by state list to find another house of worship offering space. There are also individuals out there opening up their homes or offering themselves via social media or phone. Seek them out. Or find a local community action where you can be with other folks who are grieving.

Do you need to be reminded that not all is lost? The violently racist Sheriff Arpaio who brutally targeted Latinx folks in Maricopa County was ousted by an awesome #BaztaArpaio movement! Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee and Muslim woman was elected to the Minnesota House! Tammy Duckworth, a veteran with disabilities and an Asian American woman was elected to the Senate in Illinois! In fact the number of women of color in the senate quadrupledHillary Clinton actually won the popular vote, which means that there are slightly more Americans who chose love over fear yesterday than Americans who chose hate.

Do you need some meaningful words? Try UU minister Rev. Jake Morril's Braver/Wiser post "What on Earth is Worth Saving?" Or see what activist mama Mimi Ho wrote before the election on "What I'll Tell my Kids." See how American poet and trauma expert Clarissa Pinkola Estés urges us not to lose heart with "We Were Made for These Times." Those who face oppression now and know worse is coming may find fierce comfort in Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise." Or if you're longing for songs to hear rather than words to read, check out this YouTube playlist "Nov 9th 2016" by UU minister Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen.

Do you need help figuring out how to support folks? If you have it in you to offer support, please do. Maybe that means texting your closest loved ones. Maybe it means reaching out to folks you don't know well because you know today is particularly hard on them. I've done both today from sending my best friend suggestions for getting to sleep to messaging an acquaintance whose husband is undocumented and whose very young daughter will now have to face growing up under Trump. I've seen folks online offer their homes as refuge, promise soup and bread, give their number for those who need to talk. I've seen teachers write affirming messages for their students to read upon coming into class. If you have it in you, do these things. For loved ones who are angry, let them rage. For loved ones who are numb, allow them their distractions. You don't have to make anything ok to offer support.

Do you need some concrete ideas for improving things? This article "If You're Overwhelmed By the Election Here's What You Can Do Now" offers organizations to volunteer with and donate to along with repeating the crisis numbers that are so important right now. So does this article "A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support." Talk to folks you know who have been doing organizing in your community and listen to those most impacted by racism, sexism, homophobia and ableism as you consider how to move forward. Dear ones, in closing, read these words from UU minister Rev. Ashley Horan: You are loved beyond belief. You are enough, you are precious, your work and your life matter, and you are not alone. You are part of a "we," a great cloud of witnesses living and dead who have insisted that this beautiful, broken world of ours is a blessing worthy of both deep gratitude and fierce protection. Whatever happens tomorrow, our ancestors and our descendants are beckoning us, compelling us to onward toward greater connection, greater compassion, greater commitment to one another and to the earth. Together, we are resilient and resourceful enough to say "yes" to that call, to make it our life's work in a thousand different ways, knowing that we can do no other than bind ourselves more tightly together, and throw ourselves into the holy work of showing up, again and again, to be part of building that world of which we dream but which we have not yet seen. Amen.