One of the things that people told me about grieving for a loved one was that the most unexpected things will trigger you. I’ve definitely had my fair share of those so far, from reading a paragraph in a book to watching a blue jay in one of the trees at Temple. I hate that I can’t totally predict these things, but it is what it is and I have to deal with it.
Today was the first full day of the conference. It’s really nice to be with so many colleagues and, of course, I’m totally in my element with all the learning opportunities. One of the sessions caught me totally off guard though.
The session was on the importance of emotional intelligence for archivists, not only when interacting with researchers and donors, but also in caring for themselves when processing material causes any amount of trauma. The last speaker works at the state archives in Virginia and processed materials relating to the Virginia Tech shooting. A survivor contacted them a couple of years ago and they wanted to better understand what happened by looking at the accessible records. The archivist read an email sent to the governor from a grieving parent and the room was so quiet. You could just feel the anger and pain emanating from the words. The archivist then spoke about how he was a new parent at the time he was processing the collection and how it made him think about what losing a child would be like, knowing you’re never going to see or spend time with them ever again. I started crying because while I’m not a parent yet, I can relate to the pain of losing someone and the archivist’s fears.
I called my boyfriend as soon as I got into my hotel room. I needed to hear a familiar voice to calm me down. Of all the things that I’ve thought would trigger crying, an archivist conference was not on that list. I am doing better now, so there’s that.