This has been an emotional week. The week started out with my brother’s birthday. He would have been 53. My family circled the wagons, most of us gathering to share a meal and celebrate him. My uncle from Washington called and talked to all of us. My youngest son and I texted throughout the day and his family had their own birthday dinner celebration. The only ones missing were my brother’s daughters.
I’ve received some emails in response to my post Gun Deaths Since Newtown. I am touched by the outpouring of grief and sadness shared with me, a total stranger. I am also overwhelmed with their trust to share their struggles with their faith and God. Often it is safer to share your doubts and questions with someone who doesn’t know you and who (hopefully) won’t come back with trite platitudes that don’t help.
I though I’d share a few things I’ve learned in the crucible of life that have equipped me to cope with the ever-changing landscape.
1. You are not alone. You may feel alone. You may want to be alone. But, you are not alone. Someone somewhere has gone through something very similar and survived. You may not know of anyone who has dealt with what you are now dealing, and even if you do know someone, you aren’t interested in hearing their version of your situation. You may not know it, but you have now become an elite member of The [whatever the horribleness is] Horribleness Club. Other members will find you. You’ll be surprised.
2. You will be unhinged. The body and psyche have their own ways of coping with trauma. It’s temporary, it’s unpredictable, and it’s unnerving. It will pass. You’re sleep may be disrupted. You may not remember much. You may find yourself crying in the produce section of the grocery store. It’s not the same for everyone and everyone has their own timetable toward a new normal. You may find your faith is shaken and you have a lot of unanswered questions. That’s good. Self-care is important because you need time, safe places, and safe people to recover from the full-on assault of the horribleness.
3. You will evolve. If it does nothing else, horribleness will change you. You will find out who are your real friends. You will learn what is truly helpful when going through rough waters and how to be helpful to others. You will discover good and not-so-good things about yourself that you will use as information in your evolution process. You may even learn to be thankful for the horrible experience (although it would surely be much nicer to not have to go through it) because you are wiser, more caring or understanding, a better listener, and a whole host of other commendable characteristics that have been added to your humanity repertoire.
Many people may be well-meaning, but still say unhelpful things, not want to hear what you have to say, and tell you how to get through it. You have permission to not listen to them or take their advice.
It takes courage, but your answers for yourself are within you. I believe that’s how God speaks to us. And if you’re not on speaking terms with God, pour it out in a journal. You may be surprised by your insights. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll listen.