It was the summer of 2007. We were in the crowded hallway of the ICU. My husband, his stepmom, siblings, and even aunts, uncles, and cousins were waiting to hear the news. News that we knew we didn’t want to hear. News that would change us forever. The Dr. came out and informed us that my father in law’s earthly life had come to an end. I remember that the Today Show was playing in the background. I remember another family that received good news about their loved one. And I remember looking into the eyes of my cousin and saying that the world is still moving forward, yet we are at a standstill experiencing something that will mark us forever.
That’s the first time we experienced real, raw grief as a family. Dad, mom, and three kids had to process such a difficult situation. Together. And separately. We learned that grief can be suffocating. That it comes in waves. We learned many things, including that everyone grieves differently.
Our world is suffering. We are living through something that we never even imagined possible. I have heard many say that it almost feels like we are living in a movie. We are all grieving. And, we are all coping.
One thing that my husband learned through experience, and that I have heard him use to counsel countless others throughout the years is that it is definitely ok to feel __________, but you cannot stay there. It is ok to be angry, but you can’t stay there. It’s ok to feel sad, but you can’t stay there. Feelings, emotions, they are real. And you can have them. It’s ok. You just can’t live the rest of your life in that place.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. As a mom, an entrepreneur, a pastor’s wife, and resident “concealer of all emotions,” I really really want to look like I have my stuff together. I’d like people to think that I do not get angry, (false) I don’t lose my patience, (again, false) and that I’m generally easy to get along with. (ask my kids)
Here’s the thing. Life right now is hard. It’s upside down. It’s scary. Many of us have small businesses that aren’t moving forward, leaving us with a lack of income and worry for the future. Some of us haven’t lost our jobs. . .yet. And even though we know that we do a good job and that our boss is happy, we are also waiting for that phone call where they tell us that maybe we’re just not needed. If we have our jobs, many of us are working from home. Oh, and working in the same space that our spouse is working in. And, if we have school aged kids, they’re there, too. And, we have to teach them stuff. And, if we don’t have a spouse, then we’re alone. Alone in our houses. With our thoughts. And the internet. Don’t get me started on social media because that’s pretty much a total disaster. Much of the time it’s not really helpful for anything but the comparison game. . .or arguing. . .or getting into ridiculous political conversations.
So, if someone asks you how you’re doing and you break down, that’s ok. Really. If someone asks you how you’re feeling and you say sad, that’s fine. Rather normal, actually. If you say stressed out, you have every right to be. It’s ok. Be stressed. Be sad. Get angry. Honestly, if you aren’t a little stressed, I might worry about you. But, don’t stay there. Don’t live in the despair. Sit in it a while. Grieve. And then go about your day.
Like grief, it might come in waves. You might get angry in the morning, but then be ok. You might lose your cool with the kiddos, and then pray that they forget later because you’re ok now. You might be single and alone in your house and have a real good cry at 6PM, eat some dinner, watch Netflix and start tomorrow fresh. Above all, be gracious with yourself.
What we need to hear from others right now isn’t necessarily how awesome it is to homeschool our kids or how clean our closets are or how we are getting so much work done with giant smiles. We don’t need to hear how perfect it is for everyone working from home. We need reassurance that you also ate too many snacks or fell into the Tiger King trap or were wearing sweatpants in your Zoom call with your boss. We need to hear someone say me, too! Since the me, too movement has already taken off, I propose a new hashtag for our lives right now. #same So, when you see that someone else wants to run screaming from the house because seventh grade math is too hard, you just say #same. When you can’t take it anymore because your kid is practicing his sweet recorder skillz, #same. When you are working MORE now from home than before and you are completely stressed, I pray that someone else says to you #same. When your toddlers are literally punching each other in the face and desperately want to see grandma. . . there’s gotta be someone else that says #same.
Today I did some things right. I walked outside for nearly an hour. I got a little bit tidied around the house. I read. But my kids ate leftover pizza for lunch, I made my daughter find her own dang craft supplies, and I’m pretty sure my high schooler did zero percent of his schoolwork. And, I’m very ok with that. Can I get a #same?