I come from a family where strength is the norm. If something needs to be done, one doesn’t let feelings or emotions get in the way. My Papaw’s favorite line when any of us started crying was “dry it up!” They’re the folks who sing at funerals; the folks who put duty and responsibility and doing for others and yes, attending church, before mental health. Even my husband is super strong. On days like today, I’m left with a sense of shame that I can’t live up to this standard.
Grief is weird, guys. I knew it was going to be a bad day when the sense of dread hit this morning. This is often how anxiety manifests for me – just an overwhelming sense of dread. I did not feel mentally prepared to visit graves today, especially Mom’s. But it’s Memorial Day. In Eastern Kentucky this is what we do. So I pushed onward. On the road to Mom’s cemetery, my Aunt messaged. She has been redoing the home place where Mom lived. She wanted to know if we were coming and if I might stop by and pick up Mom’s pictures? I froze.
Though I’m extremely happy someone will be living in the home place and excited for my Aunt, I just couldn’t. I wasn’t mentally prepared to walk through those doors today. We spent the last 17 years of Mom’s life visiting there. I hit a wall. It overwhelmed me. I decided not only could I not go into the house, but I couldn’t see it today, either. This was the day we would have been grilling out with Mom, having corn on the cob and her sweet tea and sitting and chatting for hours.
We had to turn around. I did not go to the cemetery today. Thankfully, I had already been out once and put spring flowers in the vases. My Aunts and other family members have put flowers on as well. This is the first day I’ve cried in a long time.
It’s been over a year and a half and I still have days like this. Off days. I can’t go days. Days where I’m just not strong. I struggle with mental health. I struggle with grief. I don’t like crowds. I’ve healed some since Mom passed, but there’s still a long way to travel.
Here is what I (and others who have suffered loss/struggle with mental health) need on the bad days:
• Someone to say it’s okay. It’s okay that you’re still grieving. It’s okay that you’re not okay today.
• Understanding. Even if you can’t relate, try to understand the pain we’re feeling.
• Space. We need time to think, process, and pray.
• Company. Sometimes we don’t need space at all, but we need your presence and activities to distract us.
• Encouragement and prayer. I miss my Mom and Granny so much for this. They always knew the right things to say. I appreciate anyone who tries!!
If you’re lost or struggling and you don’t have anyone to meet these needs for you, be your own encourager. Tell yourself it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to have a bad day – you will pick up and try again tomorrow. It’s okay to still be grieving. It’s okay if you have to reschedule. Practice self care and do something you enjoy to get your mind off things. Take it easy on yourself – you deserve it.
“When nothing else will work, encourage yourself in the Lord. Do it with the word of God. “Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you.” – George Mueller
Yours in love,