This election is almost over. And we Americans are so exhausted. We have been involved in the most egregious and disgust-creating campaign in modern history. We have been bombarded by long-winded speeches and mind-numbing debates and over-the-top news commentators telling us what it all “means.” And the truth is that most of us already decided 3-4 months ago or even earlier, for whom we were voting! So all these “words” were a waste of time. And yet we could not pull ourselves away from the media, it was as if we were drawn to a medieval duel between two aggressors who would be happy to literally destroy the other. And it was a duel with no end in sight. And we were hypnotized, you and I.
The campaign issues were all-but-eclipsed by all the surrounding pieces of this ill-tasting pie: the bus video showing Donald at his worst and the time he took to deny that he was a creepy old man who had lusted after pretty women. The e-mails that we had to hear about, accusing Hillary of financial as well as moral impropriety, her many speaking engagements which brought in millions to her and her so-called Foundation, and her “pay to play” scams bringing even more attention and disillusionment to us all.
The worst part of all this is the demonization between Hilllary and Donald. If you would believe them, only “they” were the perfect candidate, their opponent was a mere undeserving pretender to the title of President. Oftentimes, I thought I was listening to two third-graders argue in the playground, except that in that case either an adult would give each of them a time-out, or one would physically lash out at the other and the right punch would end the problem. But at least it would be over quicker than this past year. And all the time we were thinking: couldn’t the Republican and Democratic Parties come up with someone better to run for the highest office in the land? Is it our fault? Did we create this debacle? Perhaps, but it’s almost over.
And that’s the point, it’s almost over. Next week we will have a new President of the United States. Whoever looses is going to be angry and hurt as well as disappointed. It will almost like losing a loved one.
It will be an enormous loss to them and their hard working supporters, who have given so much to the cause. What will those who have lost so much do to put this behind them, to move forward to the next stage of their lives? To go, as I have said in my grief and healing books, “from mourning to morning?” How will they—and we—heal so we don’t carry our anger and despair with us for years hence?
Here comes my radical suggestion…
In the Jewish Tradition, when someone dies, we observe a seven-day period of mourning, called “shiva,” which means seven in Hebrew. It is a way of giving the mourners space to think about their loss, to meditate on life past and future, and to begin to plan what they will do next. We the family gather together at the mourner’s home, we comfort the mourners, we eat together and we pray together. We do what families are supposed to do, support and comfort those who need it the most. And, as I learned last week from a wonderful guest on my radio show, THE FIRST THREE DAYS OF SHIVA ARE SPENT IN SILENCE. We allow the mourners to process their grief however they choose, without us barging in and telling them how to react. After those first three days of silence, they can be drawn out by family members, and re-enter their community. But we give them the permission to sit and grieve alone if that’s what they need, and that’s such a meaningful life-giving act.
And that’s my suggestion. After the election, we go silent. That is, we spend time only with our families and close friends without talking about what has just happened in our country. We stop turning on our televisions at night to listen to what “the experts” think just happened, we silence all that noise so we can thing about what this means to us and our country.
Sounds crazy? Well it makes good sense. There has been so much noise, it’s time for that time-out that our souls desperately need. After a big life-loss like this, we are entitled to be quiet, at peace with ourselves, and just think about what it all means.