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The Training Spot | April 2020

Ann Marie RonsmanBy Ann Marie Ronsman

As Advocates, we work with families who are struggling mightily on a daily basis. In training, we work hard to help Advocates understand the reality of the families we serve. Prior to COVID-19, we may have thought that the families with whom we work couldn’t manage one more stress or complication. And yet here we all are, navigating these new challenging waters.

I have lots of things to say about training and how my sincere hope is that the training we are equipping you with through Zoom and Drip Learning gives you the tools to connect with, advocate for, and serve the children and families we work with in new ways in this new world we are living in. Mostly though, I just want to share that what we are all going through is just plain hard. Hard for us. Hard for our kids. Hard for our families.

I read this article recently (https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief) regarding grief. David Kessler who is one of the leading experts on grief states “We’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.

“We’re also feeling anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.”

As I reflect on this, I think about how much unresolved grief and trauma our CASA children, the bio parents and the caregivers deal with related to the child welfare system, and this is now compounded with this new grief as a result of the pandemic.

Know that in the face of all of these challenges, you the Advocate, are a safe refuge in this storm for the families we serve. Keep reaching out and building connections in new ways. Our families need it more than they ever have before. Our drip learning messages and Zoom trainings are meant to equip you with new tools for this new reality. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time if I can be of help.