There is something beautiful that happens when someone loses a parent in our society. The people that love them most show up to grieve together and to wrap the grievers in love.
Meal trains get coordinated. Thoughtful cards are delivered. Supportive texts get sent. Meaningful care packages are left on doorsteps.
Friendly faces make visits to wakes and funerals. People even check in on birthdays and holidays to make sure loved ones are OK.
Each time it happens, I am moved by the beauty of this support. My hope and faith in humanity gets a boost.
But selfishly, my own heart breaks a bit.
Because when you finally make the brave decision to end an unhealthy, abusive, or toxic relationship with your own parents while they are still living, you find the pain of that loss is a lonely experience.
There are no funerals or wakes where friends and family can mourn with you.
There is nothing to contribute to the conversations with friends when they talk about the challenges of caring for aging parents.
There is no way to convey the envy that sets in when grandparents of other children fill the basketball stands at your children’s games.
There are no words to justify to someone who (in a well-intended manner) asks, “What if you regret it and it’s too late?”
And there is no easy explanation to provide on why you hate your own birthday so much each year.
There is no permission to share with others that a parent’s birthday or anniversary might be a hard time for you.
And there is no comfort to be found when people start talking about their holiday plans with their families.
There is no way to explain the odd jealousy that creeps in when a friend has the bittersweet experience of saying goodbye to a loving parent on their deathbed.
While walking away from an toxic relationship with your parents can bring peace, comfort, and healing, often it also brings silence from those around you.
No one knows what to say so often nothing gets said at all.
But the pain and the need to grieve is there because it is an ending. And the ending of any parent-child relationship is just like a death.
It is the death of any hope of a healthy future relationship with your parents. The death of any possibility for reconciliation and repair. The death of ever knowing unconditional love from a parent.
Yes, there is death even when there is no death.
But there is no space for grief.
Not for people like me.
Originally published September 2022 by Filter Free Parents HERE.
One of those days...
Do you ever have one of "those" days?
I had one yesterday.
Within seconds of my alarm going off, I found no less than 3 text messages that would change the course of my day.
People needed my help.
People needed my flexibility.
People needed my permission.
People needed my compassion.
And within minutes, I was empty - before my feet had even hit the floor.
What do you do on days like that? How do you move forward when it feels like life just keeps trying to knock you down?
First I tried to push back.
Then I tried to find hope.
Next I tried to center and ground myself.
Eventually I was able to change my own perspective and forced myself to find the positives amidst all the negatives.
And then, as soon as I was able to do so, I gave myself some grace.
I let myself curl up on my sofa and sit in silence.
I let myself take care of me.
And as I fell asleep last night, I reminded myself that tomorrow would be a new day and a new chance to start again.
Sending you this reminder that if today is one of "those" days for you too, tomorrow is a new day.
If you are hurting this week, I have a message just for you...
Some days it’s hard to find gratitude.
Some days it’s hard to be thankful.
Some days it’s hard to feel joy.
Some days you are lonely, even when you are surrounded by others.
Some days your heartache is so loud that it drowns out everything else good in your life.
Some days all you can do is hope that others won’t notice the pain behind your fake smile.
If today is one of those days, take a deep breath and fill your lungs with air.
Feel your heart beat within your chest.
Remember that you are still alive.
Give yourself a tight squeeze and whisper to yourself - “it won’t always be this hard.”
Find a glimmer of hope on the horizon,
something to walk towards,
something that just might bring you joy,
something that just might make you thankful,
something that just might help you find gratitude…
It won’t always be this hard.
And for now, lean in to the things that bring you some comfort. For me, it’s my fur babies, a cozy blanket, and a hot cup of tea.
Grief is everywhere for all of us - yet our society does a poor job allowing people to grieve. It is ok to grieve and it is normal to struggle with how to continue living your life while dealing with grief.