The Grieving of America

We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in childhood, and we find that life alters our plans.
—Ben Oki

We have seen and heard of job losses within our economy. As a result, individuals have lost their homes, status/lifestyle, dreams, and identity. Our communities are grieving. When an event occurs that destroys our understanding of the meaning of life, our beliefs and expectations come under attack, and life, as we knew it, is gone forever. We saw this play out on September 11, 2001, when our whole community and the world came together in our shared grief over the losses that occurred. Even if you were not personally touched by those losses, you were affected by them. The loss of our personal freedoms is an additional loss as a result of increased security around the world. The devastating losses from war, hurricanes, tornadoes, and so forth, have impacted this country, as well as other countries, more than we know. All of these losses add up, and they create an energetic field woven with the underlying threads of grief and loss.

Scientists are beginning to measure and document the power of the community’s influence as a whole upon each individual. There are several theories for this phenomenon, although all of them explain it from a little different perspective. Rupert Sheldrake refers to this as Morphic Resonance—where “similar things [energetic vibrations] influence similar things [energetic vibrations] across both time and space. The amount of influence depends on the degree of similarity.” In other words, the community’s energy resonates (or not) with you and vice versa. Sheldrake further explains that societies or communities “can function and respond as a unified whole via the characteristics of its morphic field.” A Morphic field is created by a shared belief or perspective—a consensual view of the world and reality; when this reality is shattered, so to is its identity. Many individuals and our communities are now struggling with this loss of identity.

Social scientists have studied similar aspects of this phenomenon, looking at the influence of a group on individual behavior—whereas, an individual may react or behave differently alone than within a group. Often referred to as “groupthink” or group consciousness, the energy of the group can often influence an individual’s decision. Historically, we have seen the shadow side of group consciousness within Nazi Germany and elsewhere. Recently, scientists have actually been able to look at the energy field that is created by this group consciousness. For more information on this research, I recommend visiting The Global Consciousness Project’s website.

As a path of perception (or belief) is created, so too is its morphic field; all those who follow this path contribute to it. You can see this pattern within professional groups, as well as other types of communities. There is a consensus within these groups about how problems should be solved and how reality operates. This is often referred to as a paradigm. Therefore, a paradigm shift involves not only a new way of solving problems, but also a new consensus view of reality. This is why paradigm shifts are often rare and usually meet with a great deal of resistance. We are witnessing this currently within our society. From healthcare reform to the banking industry, the morphic fields of these groups are being challenged, upsetting the morphic resonance and thus the status quo within these communities. This is being experienced as a loss within the community; however, it is not recognized as such. Therefore, this grief has accumulated individually, as well as collectively, within our communities. Our communities are grieving and, until this is recognized, recovery cannot occur.

In my workshops, I often demonstrate how our identities, or lack of them, can create this dilemma. I ask the audience to do the following exercise. I encourage you to try this as well. Take out a piece of paper and tell me who you are, as if you are writing your biography. Now, look at what you have written. In my workshops, I ask for a volunteer to read or share this exercise with others in the audience. Most individuals will usually share about what they do for a living (i.e., social worker, psychologist, etc.), and sometimes their role as a mother, father, wife, husband, etc.—this is how we define ourselves in this society. I then challenge them with the question—who would you be if this all disappeared? Try describing yourself without the roles you play—it can be very challenging.

In The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe, by Lynne McTaggart, the author suggests that our consciousness can and in fact does affect what she refers to as “the field.” This field is defined as “a subatomic field of unimaginably large quantum energy in so-called empty space.” This field “connects everything in the universe to everything else, like some vast invisible web.” Gregg Braden refers to this field as the “Divine Matrix.” Regardless of what this field is called (Morphic, Divine, or Field), when enough individuals develop a consensus view of reality, this field will be created or impacted in some way. For example, if we remain in a consensus of fear and grief within our communities, then we hold the morphic field (or group consciousness) for this experience to continue. However, if we hold the consensus of hope and transformation within our communities, then this will be our experience.

Our perceptions of reality may be challenged as our society continues to shift from old paradigms, making way for new experiences. However, if we avoid the fear of change and allow ourselves to grieve our losses, we might just experience a new reality and identity within our community.

Ancestral grief is often overlooked or misunderstood. If you remember, I have suggested that whole communities can grieve as a result of group consciousness. The morphic field of groups, such as the American Indians, African Americans, the Jewish community, and so on, have endured mass trauma. This trauma is held at a cellular level within the body and within the energetic field or group consciousness of these cultures. Other generations of these communities can continue to hold this energy of grief for generations to come unless it is recognized and released at a cellular level.

For example, I had a client who was struggling with depression. Upon questioning her, I realized that she was describing unresolved grief; however, she was unaware of any particular loss. Without going into all the details here, I used hypnosis to help her find the source of this loss. She went back to a time when her ancestors where being slaughtered; we resolved this at the source and freed her energetic connection to it.

Perhaps you can identify which, if any, ancestor carried this type of traumatic grief. This does not have to be specific to a group or culture, however, the grief is often much stronger if it is.

Here are some questions to ask that may assist you in determining if you are holding on to your community’s grief. Where do I focus my thoughts? What is the consensus of reality within my community? Is this consensus sabotaging or supporting me? Are my beliefs congruent with the community I choose to associate with? As paradigms continue to shift and new information is presented, do I resist and stick with the status quo? Do I recognize and mourn my losses? Do I remain open to embracing a new identity/reality? Did my ancestors undergo severe trauma? Do I suffer from an unexplained sense of loss?

*Excerpt from the author’s forth coming book, Peaks and Valleys: Integrative Approaches for Recovering From Loss.

Author's Bio: 

Sherry O’Brian is a psychotherapist who has assisted thousands of individuals within her workshops, groups, and private practice to transform their pain into possibility. The driving force behind her book Peaks and Valleys: Integrative Approaches for Recovering From Loss is her passion to provide a larger audience with these tools of transformation. Sherry has also developed a meditation CD, “Release and Transform Burden: a meditation to awaken the healing light within,” to assist others with releasing emotional pain, and transform their lives. This meditation is one of the tools mentioned in the book and is offered as a companion piece to the book. It is currently available on her website:

As a motivational speaker her workshops and retreats focus on mind/body/spirit healing and personal growth. Sherry has presented several times for the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, The International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, and the National Association of Social Workers conferences, sharing innovative, often cutting-edge techniques, to inspire, motivate, and empower other professionals to better assist their clients.

Sherry is the sole proprietor of Mind/Body/Spirit Inner-grations and specializes in personal growth and transformation, as well as working with those suffering from chronic illness, grief/loss, and other emotional disorders. She also facilitates support groups for cancer patients and their family members at The Cancer Support Community of Central Indiana, as well as develops seminars and workshops on mind/body/spirit healing as an independent contractor for several professional organizations.

She is certified in Comprehensive Energy Psychology, Emotional Freedom Technique, Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapy, Psych-K™, Subtle Energy Therapy, Bereavement Counseling, and Guided Imagery. She is a Reiki Master and an ordained minister.