We’re now several months into the pandemic. Those who are several months out from the loss of a loved one are well aware of the emotional ebbs and flows in the timeline of grief. We have “the calendar of firsts,” some blatant like birthdays and holidays, but also the not-so-obvious moments of loss, like missing the opportunity to text a loved one about a joyful moment.
There is also the FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out. Those grieving painfully watch as the world seems to move on without them. You’re not quite ready to join in, but it’s painful to watch those around you seemingly enjoying life as it goes on. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one or the loss of everyday life during a pandemic, grief brings ups and downs. The exhaustion the soul feels can leave you thinking, “Am I ever going to make it to the other side of this?”
Grief, or any loss, certainly brings on feelings of scarcity—scarcity of control, joy, happy moments, finances, security, or even an ordinary, normal day.
Whether influenced by social media, marketing, or parental guilt, some may feel that living a simple, ordinary life as a failure. Scarcity and the fear of the ordinary drive some towards a constant drive to achieve an “Instagrammable life.” If you’re feeling like you have to have a perfectly decorated and organized home, only take Facebook-worthy vacations, always share your child’s perfect report card or amazing athletic achievements, or constantly attain other extraordinary “results” in your life, it’s time to give that up. It wears on your psyche and is the perfect way to hit a wall of depression. No one truly achieves extraordinary results all day, every day and you don’t have to either.
Brene Brown has said, “The opposite of scarcity is not abundance, it’s ENOUGH” and we have said many times at SandCastles, that simply getting out of bed in the morning and brushing your teeth while grieving is ENOUGH. But we are constantly looking at ourselves, comparing what we see to others’ imagined Instagrammable lives, and telling ourselves, “Well that’s not ENOUGH.”
In reality, everyone’s path to ENOUGH is just as unique as their grief. If we can stop looking at what’s going on in other people’s lives and focus on what’s happening in our own homes, it will be ENOUGH. You know your family best, trust what’s ENOUGH for them. A colleague of mine has a mantra, “Everything always has a way of working out. You just don’t know how or when.” I would add, “If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end”. Part of the problem is feeling like we’ve lost control. We all want to control how things work out because what if how things resolve simply isn’t “ENOUGH”?
A great quote for inspiration during the slumps of grief is, “So far, you’ve survived 100% of your worst days.” And isn’t that the truth? It may be messy, ugly and downright overwhelming but you have survived everything that’s happened to you in your life so far.
Methods of surviving a grief experience are also unique. As a family, look at everyone’s individual coping skills and habits that support the family. What do you each, individually, need to support you in grieving in a healthy way? It takes courage and insight to dig into what your coping needs are and share them with your family members. I once read an article about being brave, where the writer was reminiscing about a family trip. The adults were cheering their kids on as the kids jumped off the cliff into the lake. One child was hesitant. The writer invited her readers to take a moment to reflect on this question: “Isn’t saying no to something just as brave and courageous?” Yes! Saying no is ENOUGH. Saying no also contributes to healthy grieving and surviving.
Whether you are grieving the death of a loved one or grieving the layers of loss during this pandemic, THERE IS HOPE. THERE IS LIGHT at the end of this tunnel. An ordinary, normal day brings peace and holds value. Whatever you and your family choose for support during your grief journey is ENOUGH. And most importantly, remember that saying no can be just as brave as jumping into something new.
Carrie ten Boom once said, “When a train goes through a tunnel, and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” Trust that you and your family will continue to survive through the tunnel of grief because, whatever you are doing, it is ENOUGH.
Michele S. Kreft, LMSW