LC11-Support and Holding Space

When I realized that these troubling Long Covid (LC) symptoms may never go away, I joined the Long Covid Support Group on Facebook. The group has its origins in England and has over 65K+ members worldwide. For me, the group is supportive and exemplifies what it means to hold space. These new friends face challenges with eyes wide open, remaining hopeful despite symptom complexities, discomfort, and the cultural frustrations that come with these diagnoses. We are motivated and well-read, enthusiastic about anything that helps with quality-of-life improvement and healing. Many posts share practical information or articles about treatment protocols, supplements, or medications. This is certainly useful. What I find more useful is the mutual understanding and witnessing presence that accompanies many posts. There is a sense of community, camaraderie, and shared wisdom providing both solace and comfort. For me, the group offers an opportunity to be part of a profound experience of both holding space for thousands and being held by the same.

I believe in the power of support groups. There are different types, including 12 Step groups for persons in recovery; peer or mutual support groups for persons with shared interests, needs, or medical conditions; and facilitated therapy groups guided by trained professionals. Focus areas for guided groups can include depression, anxiety, weight loss, infertility, pregnancy, bereavement, parenting, caregiving, domestic violence, and so many more. Groups can meet in person or virtually (via Zoom or other platforms). When joining a support group, be sure to check the rules before jumping in. They should, at minimum, include instructions about truthful, respectful sharing (no bullying) and maintaining confidentiality. Some groups require a short survey to allow entry. Facebook literally has millions of support groups in case you are looking for something online. The benefit of being with others with the same lived experience cannot be overstated. Holding space is woven into the fabric of most support groups and that is the bonus!

Holding space, support, and compassion are conceptual practices interweaving the intention to relieve suffering while maintaining personal inner peace and balance. I learned about these concepts in the mid-1980’s at massage school and practiced all of them throughout my career. In 2004 when our friend, Wayne entered hospice care at home, holding space took on an entirely new perspective. During that time, aspects of what it means to hold space were taught to us by hospice nurses, the social worker, and others present who had experience caring for those in hospice. They did not use the term “holding space” but simply demonstrated a palpable, calm witnessing presence that helped Wayne and everyone supporting him to do the same. I observed that holding space is a hands-off practice that ultimately requires letting go and surrendering to the truth of what is happening. When Further Shore was founded in 2005, our training focused on various pre-hospice concepts, including, and I think most importantly, holding space.

I believe that my LC support group is successful because its founders have had direct experience with LC, thus providing the empathy and compassion needed for group members to feel safe and held, while at once feeling empowered to hold space for others. The founders also established excellent guidelines and rules of engagement. The administrators keep a watchful eye on every post to ensure an environment of supportive care and kindness. This is important during times when personal ability or agency is limited or in decline. The bottom line here is that if you need support, a group can provide education, resources, and comfort. The added benefit of holding space and being held is a gift that I resonate with and deeply appreciate. Feel free to comment or message me with questions about the LC support group or other supportive resources.

Thank you for reading! Next time in the LC Series I’ll share more about holding space.

Please Note:  The Long Covid series is intended to be both a memoir and an educational resource for the “living well” aspect of our mission. It is hoped that the content will increase empathy, support, and understanding for those living with chronic conditions.

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1 thought on “LC11-Support and Holding Space”

  1. Beautiful Aleia! Holding space is such an important element in any healing situation. I’m truly grateful for the lessons I’ve received from you on this concept. Thank you.


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