Taking a breath

We are living in a scary world, an uncertain time, an unbelievable crisis. We are doing our best to model behavior for our children. We are attempting to stay sane while waking each day to unanswered questions and a rising threat.

I’ve spoken with friends about how they are handling working, teaching, parenting, marriage, and life while sheltering at home. For some, it’s been easy. They enjoy not having to get everyone out the door in the morning, not having to commute, not having to leave home. Some, it’s much harder. Their spaces are small, their husbands are home, their kids are going stir crazy.

For us, it’s been fine. We are getting along. We are navigating the challenges. We are cooking and eating together, watching movies together, playing outside together. We are staying safe.

I’ve read this on posts from other loss-moms who are having trouble making space for grief. In that list of a mother’s responsibilities in today’s environment, by the end of the day, there just isn’t time for anything else. We try to factor in self-care, but if we’re being honest, that often leads to guilt. How can I meditate, or take a walk, or rest in the bathtub while I have deadlines, and dinners, and homework, and housecleaning?

At what point can we give ourselves permission to just breathe? We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, or next week, or next month. We continue to hear about people falling ill and dying. We’ve been locked away in our homes, avoiding germs, then what…we just go back to normal? There is no normal after this pandemic. Things continue to evolve and change and we just don’t know what to expect. Even the experts are saying they wish they had a crystal ball.

What about those of us who’ve already survived trauma and will forever deal with the fallout? What about those of us who said goodbye to our babies and now face imminent threat of more losses? How do we keep breathing with our children in Heaven and our families at risk?

I don’t have the answer. I struggle with simple thoughts like what if we lose our jobs, what if our parents get sick, what if there’s an outbreak in our community? I guess we are lucky to only be worrying about threats that have affected so many people already.

But I haven’t made space for grief and I haven’t made time to breathe. It feels selfish. It feels like wasting time. It feels like a luxury I don’t deserve.

But it will catch up with me. In the past five years since we lost our son, the grief always finds its way in. It’s triggered by something beyond my control, and it levels me. It knocks me down, drags me around, and leaves me broken. It’s a monster—similar to the one the world is fighting—and it always wins. Whether I make space for it or not, the grief always wins.

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