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Unpredictable Hope

Like grief re-arising unexpectedly, is hope finding its wings?

You know how grief can break out unexpectedly and sometimes weirdly? For example, for about two years after my mother died in the early 1990s, whenever I was in a public place where clapping might happen (Remember public places? Remember clapping?), during the applause I would immediately start to weep for no known reason, and would stop the instant the applause was over. It didn't matter if it was the end of King Lear or a funny movie, I'd find myself in free-floating weeping. It didn't take me too long to connect it to Mom's death, even though my siblings and I had grieved on her passing, and had even pre-grieved while lung cancer had her in its long, awful grip.

I think now in a more obvious way I'm undergoing sudden outbreaks of hope.

Hope floods me when my hand is on the doorknob into my sister-in-law's apartment with her caregiver and I remember they've both had their first vaccines. It happens when I go for a walk and see a stranger step aside to afford another stranger a safe distance. It even happens on Zoom when I vividly recall what it's like to be in the same room with others.

And with the news that we're now expected to have enough shots for the entire country by the end of May, I got hit not just by hope but by a stress relief reaction caused by mere governmental competency.

As with grief, I now never know when hope is going to find me. Indeed, the mere fact that I can hope again itself brings a fresh spring gust of hope.

Now of course we must work to make sure all can experience the joyful anticipation of relief.

More from David Weinberger, Ph.D.
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More from David Weinberger, Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today