Search This Blog

Somedays, You Just 'Do'

I was sitting across the table from my friend over stale coffee as fresh tears were coming down her cheeks.  The knot in my throat was beating with every emotion I was trying to contain, as I listened to her talk about losing her dad.  If I could have willed the the pain into my own heart in order to lessen hers, I would have done it a thousand times over.  I told myself, "I've done this, I'd do it again if it meant she didn't have to"...but that's the thing about mourning...you have to walk through it...no one can take it from you.  I wanted to thank all those friends who sat across the table from me in all those coffee shops, living rooms, college apartments, almost 11 years ago, as I understood that not being able to aleviate someone's pain is a form of pain in itself.

She sat looking at her coffee.

I sat looking at her.

Then she asked the question I've asked and have been asked so many times,

"How do you get through it?"

It's been almost 11 years...how could I not have a better answer than the one I knew I was going to give her?  How is it that it's been over a decade and I still dread June 11th?  

How do you get through it. 

I told her what I've told so many, 

"Somedays, you just 'do'". 

Everyone mourns in their own way.  I can only speak from my story...and this is my story. 

I said to her, there were some days when I literally remember looking up at my ceiling and saying, "One step at a time...literally.  Tami, push the covers back. No, seriously, you're allowed to be sad...you're not allowed to feel sorry for yourself, you're not allowed to give up. Tami, walk to the bathroom...brush your teeth...get in the shower...get dressed...go to class..."

You may think I'm kidding. I wish I was.

Those moments turn to seconds.  Seconds turn to hours, which turn to days.  

I didn't live every day like that, but there were many in that first year that I did.  I made myself some promises that I stuck to, because I knew they were going to be my lifeline to not letting her death win over my life.  I'm not an expert...just a testimony.  So here were some truths I discovered that saved me...

You're allowed to be sad.  You're not allowed to feel sorry for yourself.
I come from a family who doesn't show their emotions quickly.  I'm definitely considered the most emotional out of the bunch, and my friends laugh at that since they say I'm not emotional...so if that tells you anything. :) But I remember talking to my sister Heidi and was saying how I was feeling frustrated that if I felt myself wanting to cry about her, people would be thinking I was depressed.  She said, "Tami. You're 21 and you just lost your mom...I think it's okay for you to be sad." I'm not sure why her saying that changed so much for me.  It was like I could relax a little, and I felt normal.  She was right...it was good in that time to be sad.

However, there's a difference between being sad and pitting yourself...don't give yourself permission for self-pity. I held to this one like it was my oxygen...and not because I was trying to be a self-righteous saint.  Not at all.  I clung to this because I quickly realized that self-pity will take you deeper and faster into a hole that you cannot get out of...it's like strapping on an anchor to a person who is already struggling to swim.  It's okay to say, "This sucks.  It really does.  I'm sad and this is hard." But that's where it ends...self-pity is depression's greatest ally, so don't give into it...please.

Give yourself permission to be happy.
My sister says she remembers the first time she laughed after my mom passed away.  I don't remember when I did...probably sooner than "appropriate"!  There's this guilty feeling that comes with laughing and feeling happy after a tragedy.  It's easy to feel like we're somehow discounting the fact that we miss them, but you're not.  Let yourself feel happy, know that your happiness does not subtract from the profound loss you experienced...it's a gift straight from God himself to laugh and feel happy again, so relish in it.  Our family laughs easily and a lot...it's been one of the best things for us and has held us together.  Sometimes, people cry with laughter...and that's okay too...but just know, it's a great thing to be happy. 

Remember that I carry on her legacy...bring life to it.
My mom lived an extraordinary life.  There was no doubt about that...everyone that knew her, knows that.  I knew that her story goes on with her family, and the real tragedy would be that if the result of her death was her family falling apart.  No...that wasn't an option.  We wouldn't just make it through, we'd be stronger.  But this meant being vulnerable, open, and living a life more exposed than I was previously comfortable living.  We didn't get through by numbing anything...no, you let yourself feel every ounce of that pain, the loss...but always in the direction of healing.  Many of my friends are not Christians, including this dear friend who lost her dad so they will deal differently (although, I don't think for a second that you have to be a Christian to fall on God and pray to Him)...but like I said, I can only speak from my story.  I am one and clung to my belief in a kind and trustworthy God over and over and over again.  I remember one of the pastors saying at her funeral that there was no hug, no word spoken, no kind gesture that could reach to the very core of the pain...that God reserves that part only for Himself to be able to fill.  If you've been through any kind of life-changing pain whether it be a heartbreak, loss of anything or anyone meaningful to you, you know that core pain he was talking about.  I would have loved to numb it, but because I knew nothing would, I held up that core hurt to God so many many times asking him to simply hold it for me...that I couldn't, but He could...and He did.

Some kind of ocean view always seems very appropriately cliche when discussing this topic! ;)

Purpose to be a source of light.
At some point, without realizing it, I had started to create a pattern where I would go to my sister's homes when things were difficult.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table and I was feeling sad and my nephew came up very concerned and said, "Tami, don't cry...womens don't cry." Haha! I laughed and said, "Well, womens cry...your mom doesn't." ;)  But something about that struck me and I purposed right there to change something.  I think it's okay for "womens to cry"...and men for that matter, but I asked myself, how do I want my nephews to feel when they see me walk through their door?  Do they see a dark cloud or white light?  I wanted to be light.  It's not always easy to do this when you're going through a time of mourning, and there's a time and place for letting yourself feel sad (necessary too)...but overall, do you want to be a giver or a taker?  The absence of joy or the source of it? I have very good little motivators...seven (soon to be 8) of them, who look up to me.  I want my roommate to come home and feel like it's a joyful place in her life.  It takes a conscious effort to be present, to look people in the eye, to truly see them, to smile...but effort is good.  It's okay if you're sad and people can read it in your eyes.  It's okay if you don't feel like a source of light...or joy.  You don't have to fake perfection...in fact, don't...that's annoying.  But there is a lot of joy and healing that comes from getting out of your own head, out behind your own eyes, and see how you can begin to take this very sad experience in your life and use it as a motivator for joy.  It'll come, trust me...it'll come.

I could make a list of 20-50 thoughts when going through tragedy...but the honest truth is, some days, you still find yourself laying in your bed, staring up at the ceiling, and you're not sure how you're going to make it through.  You can't remember the 4 points...or was it 5?  On those days, you just want to be sad, you don't feel like being a source of light, you don't feel like you can walk through another 24 hour day...you can't feel past the pain...you can barely feel at all.  On those days, you just push through the motions: you push back those covers, you walk to the bathroom, you brush those teeth.

...All you know is that you can. NOT. give. up...

...and so how do you get through this? Well, my brave little warrior, somedays you just 'do'


Neil said...

Tami, this is such a beautiful post. I have a friend in mind to share it with. <3 Thanks for speaking from the heart today!

Neil said...

PS this is Caili, NOT Neil. :) My computer always does that!

Tami said...

Thanks so much Caili!! ;)

Anonymous said...

Tami- thank you for this. I found myself nodding in agreement throughout this entire post. This past Christmas was the first I have enjoyed in seven years. It was odd when I made that realization, but than I also realized it is well with my soul and for that I am grateful. Love you friend!

Kasey said...

Love this, Tam! These truths are beautiful to read, but even more beautiful to witness in your life. Love you friend!

Tami said...

Sunita, I love to hear that...it's true and it also just takes time. I can only imagine our moms up there...I always imagine them causing quite the stir! Partners in crime no doubt. ;) love you, friend.

Tami said...

Thanks so much for saying that, Kase...love you.

Erin said...

Thanks for allowing God to use you to speak those truths. I really needed to hear some of that. Blessings to you!

Christen Leigh said...

Love your thoughts here, Tami. Also--I loved being with you this past weekend! It felt like the weekend went so fast, but was really fun. :) Hope you have a great rest of your week!

Post a Comment