Blog Helplessness and Hopelessness

Helplessness and Hopelessness

May 19th 2021

While preparing for a workshop with 140 SEWA grassroots leaders I reached out to Harvey Rich, a wonderful psychoanalyst and friend, to understand the inner workings of our grief. As he says in his book opening, his home was a place where people came to grieve. He helped me see the difference between grief and sadness, between helplessness and hopelessness.

We feel helpless when we can not get oxygen when we can’t get food for those that are sick. Hopelessness is something different. It is when we lose our sense of agency. It is about feeling powerless.

Understanding the difference between not being able to provide for an urgent need, and feeling we have lost our inner power is the first step. Reaching out to others who are also feeling helpless is the second. As we have learned this past week, tears can represent love and companionship. Tears are not a sign that we are breaking down but a way of letting us know we are hurting so we can stand together and walk from here; recognizing we might feel helpless, but we have not lost the capacity to work together, hand-in-hand, through these trying times.