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by Mari Nardolillo Dias, contributing writer
I am only one voice in the smallest state in the United States, a nation of many across the globe. A tiny voice, albeit a loud one that speaks on behalf of many.
Under their fervor, intensity and bravado, many Ukrainians are grieving. Whether it be anticipatory or acute, the grief is palpable along with associated fear and rage. And other citizens in other nations, including our own, feel the same. Many of us have experienced war and yet are not desensitized to the cost. The fear of nuclear war is on the minds of many. Christians advise us to read the Book of Revelations as it predicts the end of the world. Their (Christians) belief is that what is currently happening in our world and reported in the media is an indication of the beginning of the end. “Conspiracy theorists” believe there is much more than meets the eye – like the movie “Wag the Dog”, where people are manipulated to trust the manifest content of our government. Despite in which camp you belong, you feel hopeless. Powerless. Terrified.
Once again, our world is changing. We have seen the smaller changes and losses in our state and chalked it up with a modicum of regret. We have witnessed larger changes and losses in our country and reacted with a superfluity of anguish and yearning. Some applaud our administration for their efforts, as their opposition feels like they fell down the proverbial rabbit hole… US funded bio labs in Ukraine? Yes. No. Chernobyl has 48 hours left to cool before we all inhale toxic gas. Yes. No. Rhetoric? Yes. No. Contradictory messages? Yes. No. Many struggle with finding the truth.
What will ultimately happen? Allow me to pose the following question: how does knowing the truth make us more at ease? Give us a louder voice? Prepare us? I suspect that many of you might reply that there is nothing scarier than the unknown. Knowing may provide a moderate sense of psychological readiness. Uncertainty is part of being human. “Some thrive on uncertain times, others become emotionally paralyzed. “ (Healthline).
Fear of the unknown is defined as Xenophobia. This is an intolerance of uncertainty. What can we do? We can donate money, goods and services to the Ukrainian refugees in an effort to DO SOMETHING. I’ve heard many discuss stockpiling canned goods and provisions. I’ve heard conversations on digging a bomb shelter and procuring gas masks. Small businesses, after surviving COVID lockdowns, predict closing shop due to high gas prices. National decisions trickle all the way down to either unintended or “intended” consequences. In all these scenarios, we are powerless.
If, like many, the state of the world is impacting on your anxiety, your worldview and your vulnerability towards uncertainty, try to take stock in what you can control. I do not attempt to sugar coat the potentially critical condition. It’s very difficult to say, “there is nothing I can do to stop this.” I know.
I can only draw on my faith.
Dr. Mari Dias is a nationally board-certified counselor, holds a Fellow in Thanatology and is certified in both grief counseling and complicated grief. Dias is a Certified death doula, and has a Certificate in Psychological Autopsy.
She is Professor of Clinical Mental Health, Master of Science program, Johnson & Wales University. Dias is the director of GracePointe Grief Center, in North Kingstown, RI. For more information, go to: http://gracepointegrief.com/ .
She is the author of GriefSpeak, vol. 1, Stories of Loss