My daughter’s 13th birthday is April 12. We had plans, dammit. We found a vegan AND gluten free bakery on the Westside and we were going to order cupcakes so she could have a little party with her friends. I’m sure most people don’t think it’s that big of a deal, but it is to her.
If there’s one thing I have learned in life it is the importance of allowing yourself to grieve. And by grieve I mean for anything and everything. Now, obviously, you won’t cry as long over spilt milk…OK, now you might, because now we all know how valuable milk actually is. And bread. Nobody has any, and I do not have all the ingredients. I can’t even fill out the recipe through Amazon.
And then there is the toilet paper. (Ominous music in the background.)
OK, you might think I’m being overly dramatic, but we are all soon going to be suffering a lot of things we never thought we’d suffer. If we don’t learn to grieve, we will actually begin to carry that stuff around in our bodies and it will create stress and then, like so many Americans often do, we will blow our tops. This is never a good thing, but it’s a terrible thing when you are stuck inside with your family for however long we will be.
When my second son was diagnosed with his birth defect, it was September 11, 2001. Every year, for over a decade, that anniversary was as painful to me as to survivors because I was never allowed to grieve. I was, of course, in church at the time, and their attitude was really along the lines that it didn’t matter if he died because he’d go to heaven and really, what are you upset about? (Death as taught in Lived Out Religion 101.)
I have known many people, most of whom came out to me when I was waiting for my son to be born, who are still grieving the deaths of their infants. They’d never been able to grieve. And speaking of their dead child was, and still is in most of the world, not allowed. But that pain is still with them, because people want them to just get over it.
People want us to “get over it” because people do not want to hear about other people’s trauma. That is because people are weak. We don’t want our world upset by other people’s pain…because we are weak. The only kind of trauma story we allow are the ones with happy endings. People love to tell the stories of babies like mine who lived. But women whose children died are silenced.
We do not know how to simply grieve and move forward. We do not even understand that in order to move forward we must grieve.
Our order of food came today. There is no bread. There were only about half the items we ordered. Yes, we will be OK, but dammit, bread is something we use everyday.
I went to my room, laid down, and rested. I got up, tried to order items so I could make bread, and realized that we won’t be having bread for a while.
It all sucks.
I am not the kind of person who believes in looking at other people’s misery and finding comfort that I am not like them, I find that mindset disgusting. Which is probably why I don’t fit in most anywhere. I never tell my kids that someone else has it worse than them. That doesn’t help a person process the pain. It doesn’t help a person “get over it.” It only makes them stuff it and it comes out in other terrible ways.
Acknowledge that it sucks. Acknowledge that you are sad about it. Take the time to appropriately grieve. Yesterday, spilt milk was only a minor mishap. Today, spilt milk is a disaster. Acknowledge that it’s changed and grieve that too. Then you can be ready for when the school calls and tells you the kids won’t be returning at all this term.
(PS You can tell I’m old and read too many old books because apparently other Americans no longer use the spelling “spilt.” Thanks, Spell Check. 😉 )