Feeling the Hard of it All


It has been two weeks now. Two weeks of social distancing; two weeks of aloneness or very limited contact; two weeks of staying at least six feet away from anyone who does not currently occupy our homes with us. Two weeks and things are getting harder. Harder to deal with, harder to fathom, harder to grasp hold of in a way we can understand. I am hearing from friends who own small businesses and are having to let go of staff, people they care about very deeply. Friends who are considered essential workers are heading out every day and so are in a constant state of anxiety and worry about their health and the health of the loved ones they interact with. Friends whose jobs have been shut down or let go are struggling and in fear. Things are hard. As a dearest dear one put it, it feels like we have been running on adrenaline for the last two weeks and now reality is crashing in. I miss my people I am worrying about them, fearing for them in some cases. I miss my normal. I miss taking my daughter out for sushi. I miss going to the movies or walking the mall with my husband. I miss falling into the arms of my closest friends. This is hard.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to feel when things are hard. I am tempted to remind myself that I have it so much better than others perhaps do. This is not affecting my paycheck or my husband’s as we are able to work from home. We are healthy, have enough for our needs and then some, and are together. I have nothing to complain about, I am tempted to scold myself. But why? Why should I scold myself? Why should you shame yourself? What is our crime? Being human and grieving all this hard right now? Why are we tempted to compare our pain, our hard with someone else’s? Yes, there are people in worse situations than I am, and this is hard for them. However, that does not diminish the space I need to hold for myself and that you should hold for yourself, too. We need to feel and grieve this hard. I need to. I need to let myself admit that things are hard right now, because they are.

Let’s set down the shame, dear ones. Set down the expectation that we should be able to handle this. No one is handling this well, never mind handling at all. These are times for which no one was prepared; these are circumstances for which no one was ready—physically, mentally, financially, emotionally. We do not need to be the one with the answers, because we are not. We cannot expect ourselves to be the ones who fix this, because we are not. What we can do in this moment is admit that this is all incredibly, immensely hard. We can grieve the losses in our lives, whatever they may be. We can allow ourselves to be beautifully, brokenly human.

For me, the hardest thing right now is the unfathomableness of all this, the not knowing. I have no end to work towards or, at least, not an end that I can see. We canceled a spring break trip we had planned for our daughter. A concert Ben and I have been looking forward to for years is postponed with no idea of when it will be rescheduled. A belly dance workshop with a favorite dancer/teacher planned for my birthday weekend is postponed until next year. My mother cannot come to visit us for Easter. I cannot go visit a friend as I had planned. My weekly dinners with another cannot happen right now. My daughter cannot play with her best friend.

This. Is. Hard. It is, dear Readers, and we are allowed to feel and grieve that hard. Right now, we are in perhaps some of the softest spaces to emotionally land that we probably could ever be. We can be soft, too. I know it’s hard, believe me, fighting the shame. We are together in that, though we may be separated into our own spaces. Still, my little corner of the online world is a soft place for you to land. What is your hard today? What is your grief? You are safe and welcome to share those here. I see you. I hear you. There is space for you here.

Struggling at the End


This is scary but I will write it anyway.

For the whole of this summer, I have struggled.

I have struggled to grieve.

I have struggled to process.

I have struggled to write.

I don’t like struggling. I am sure you do not either. It is hard, it hurts, and answers are not forthcoming. I feel stuck, and that is definitely no fun. I have written. Pages. But when I look back at them, I cannot help but feel that they don’t actually say anything, that I am just babbling on paper. I have even asked myself,

“Am I even doing this right?”

Did you catch that? I was questioning whether or not I am grieving correctly. If you have been a Reader for long, then you know I am intimate friends (frenemies?) with uncertainty. I question myself on the regular and now I have found myself questioning if I am moving through my emotions, my grief, my disappointment, in the right way.

God bless for a husband who sometimes reads over my shoulder when I am scribbling madly. He reminded me not too long after I had scratched this down on during a worship service that there is no right way to grieve. No “right way” to process. Grief is hard, sometimes solitary, and often confusing work. I have seen death throughout my life but am honestly unsure as to how exactly I grieved in each case.

I have struggled all summer, it feels like. Struggled to rest, struggled to recover, struggled to enjoy. Now we are coming to the end, and I feel like I want to despair. I would love a do-over of this summer, but we are not given the benefit of time-travel, are we? I feel panicky as the summer days draw closer to an end, scrabbling to grasp the last of my free time before it disappears, and school with all of its responsibilities and stresses crowds in again. I do not want to carry this burden in August. But grief doesn’t exactly give us a timeline of operation, does it?

I do not have an answer for how to do all of this, I am sorry. All I know is that I am just trying every day and doing my best to give myself permission to feel hard feelings and to lean on my dear ones when I need it. To look for the light when it seems that there is none.

In this same vein and right on time, something unexpected happened yesterday. A dear friend sent me a beautiful Twitter thread by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg discussing Mr. Fred Rogers, his beliefs, and how he manifested those beliefs and ministry throughout his life and tenure on television. She discussed how he directly addressed some of the big issues and questions of the time, putting them into words and actions that children and adults alike could understand, demonstrating his love and care for all people who walk this mortal coil. Touched and inspired by the post, I retweeted it on my own Twitter page and then, seized by a heart-nudge, I screenshot every page of the thread, making sure I got everything, including Rabbi Ruttenberg’s name, and then posted the photos on this blog’s FB page, making sure to tag the original thread, as well as Rabbi Ruttenberg’s public FB page so that everyone who saw it could explore this wonderful woman of God’s posts and encouragements. These were not and are not my words, BUT I am privileged to be able to share them. Up to this point (2:49pm on 7/23/19), my post of the thread has had 3.4 thousand shares, and, in all its journeying, has reached over 139,600 people. I am agog at this, dear friends! Simply agog. But my aforementioned dear husband made a very poignant point.

“Is that really that surprising? People are looking for grace and goodness in their lives.”

I know that he is right, and I know that, for many of us, Mr. Rogers and his work were a formative influence in the development of that same grace and goodness, empathy and encouragement, in our lives. What I posted in that thread are not my words but those of a woman wise in life and faith who shares her heart, mind, and conviction with the world, in the hopes of “cultivating empathy, allowing for curiosity, and loving our neighbor has ourselves”. Those words are reaching, encouraging, and inspiring others beyond what I ever thought possible, and it’s amazing to watch.

I am so glad that I was able to share your words, Rabbi Ruttenberg, and thank you for the hope that they have given to this struggling woman. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to have hard feelings, and it’s even okay to struggle for a time.

A Picture of Grief


This is what grief looks like. It looks like abandoning today’s carefully-laid-out page in your planner in favor of a couch and a blanket. It looks like wanting to do nothing but sleep all day long. It looks like not being ready to tell almost anyone what has happened yet, because that will make it undeniably true.

This is what grief looks like. It looks like pulling yourself up and pushing through with at least that one errand that simply must be completed today. It looks like continuing with business as usual because things must get done, and who else is going to do them?

Grief looks like silence, of not knowing what to think or how to feel, of being unsure of what to do next. It looks like not knowing what to say to someone else whose loss feels so much deeper than yours. It looks like talking to a friend for a long while yet finding yourself unable to tell them what you’re going through. It looks like crumbling into tears when unconditional kindness and help are offered by someone who does know.

My maternal grandmother died on Monday evening. It was not unexpected but that does not make it any easier, I am finding. She has been saying, “Not today,” to death for years now, and, in a way, that makes it harder. There are other things that make it harder, too, but those are neither here nor there.

This is what grief looks like. It is strange. I feel strange. I do not know how to do this.

Hidden Behind the Ripple


“I’m fine.” We are all familiar with the lie of “I’m fine”. There is a myriad of reasons for not admitting when we aren’t okay.

We don’t want to be a bother.

We know that others “have it much worse”.

We don’t have the emotional spoons or energy to explain everything.

We are embarrassed or ashamed by whatever is going on in our head or heart.

So we say “I’m fine”. We join in the conversation, join in the laughter. But laughter can hide so much. It can hide pain, hurt, betrayal, despair, loneliness, heartache, and the list goes on and on. It’s amazing sometimes just how much can be hidden behind the ripple of what should represent joy and pleasure.

We have all been or known someone who hides behind the smiling mask, lost in such a dark haze that laughter becomes anathema to its original point and becomes just another reminder of pain and little else. Sometimes it easy to tell when laughter is naught but a smokescreen and a hiding place. Other times, though, it is not so easy to see. But gentleness is still possible, I believe, even when we don’t know. Knowing this, can we not see our way to holding souls gently? To not insist that they “smile and be happy” if they aren’t feeling it. To sit with them in quiet and commiserate. In the Bible, Proverbs 14:13a says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache…”  How true is this! Isn’t this all the greater a reason to hold and treat each other gently?

{{Author’s note: Ironically, I finished and posted this on a day that I was most definitely not fine. Thank you to all those who held me gently and held space for me in my not-okayness.}}

What We Do with the Shattered


All around, the pieces of broken hearts, hurting souls, broken relationships, destroyed hopes, ruined sanctuaries or senses of peace, and shattered dreams. Injured, jagged, pulsing, and aching with unspeakable pain. Everywhere you look, there they lie, leaving precious people pallid and trembling with shock, fear, and uncertainty.

I don’t know what to do. There’s nothing I can do. The thoughts chase through my mind as I stand amidst it all, at a loss of where to start.

Yes, you do. The Truth comes clearly, even as I stand in fearful, tearful silence.

What do we do with hearts that lie broken, souls that ache with pain? The answer is the most simple, difficult, necessary, and needed thing.

We love them.

We. Love. Them.

The Power of Permission | Scribbles


I know that this piece was written with grief over a loved one’s death in mind, but I feel like it’s so poignant to many other situations of pain. I know that some of you, my dear ones, are hurting this holiday season or healing from the pains of this year, so I wanted to send this sweet reminder to you. You are loved, and it’s okay.

Take a deep breath with me, sweet friend.

I need you to hear this.

It’s okay.”

Read more via The Power of Permission | Scribbles .