I’ve taken some time off from writing and posting so I can focus on my family. I’m trying not to feel guilty about the fact that my time off has coincided with November, Diabetes Awareness Month, and the feeling that I need to be posting MORE right now. But wow, I am DRAINED. The Pike Road Lions Club Strides Walk was a great event and I am excited to help again next year. I have a post coming with pictures of the event and a big thank you to all who made it a success.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with Mr. Mister’s family. I am in in a reflective mood tonight. I’m thinking about how wonderful it is to be together, to share a meal, and to share each others triumphs and difficulties. A priest of ours used to say, “A joy shared is doubled. A sorrow shared is halved.” There are many things for which I am thankful, and I am glad to share with my family my joy about how our children are growing and learning. I am grateful we were able to visit with family and celebrate their successes. I am thankful we were able to message with family farther away and wish each other well. I am daily grateful for the insulin and supplies that keep Grasshopper alive. Joy is easy to share. It bounces ahead like an eager puppy. But sorrow? Sorrow wants to stay alone and not dim anyone else’s joy. To paraphrase Oscar from The Odd Couple and George from Seinfeld, most often I want to stuff my sorrows in a sack. Unfortunately that leads to a whole attic full of soggy, sacked sorrows in my already overloaded brain.
I know there are other parents out there like me who ARE grateful, ARE thankful for their children’s lives but who are also constantly wary of the next thing. With type 1 diabetes, I am always on alert. Low blood sugar, high blood sugar, dosing him with insulin for snack, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and more snacks because (thank goodness) he is growing like kudzu. The balancing act doesn’t end with the physical side of type 1 diabetes. Every day I see posts by parents of children with type 1 diabetes worried about their insurance covering the necessary insulin and supplies. Parents whose child has only recently been diagnosed and who are trying to figure out how to apply in real time what they were taught in the hospital to keep their child alive another day. Parents whose grown children died because they couldn’t afford the insulin they needed to survive. Parents who are worried both about their children’s future and who are not sure how they will get through the next five minutes with a sick type 1 child whose blood sugar is dropping and who doesn’t want to eat. Who are struggling with depression, anxiety and who are trying to not let their children see their fear. Parents who are both grateful their child is alive today and who are also emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted.
So I’m saying: it is ok to be thankful and at the same time to grieve what has been lost. It is ok to be thankful for having a wonderful father and at the same time grieve that he isn’t here to play with his grandchildren. It is ok to be thankful that your child is here and also grieve the childhood you wish he had. It is ok to grieve a diagnosis that has changed your family’s life. It is ok to grieve the end of a relationship and all the changes that come with moving to a new city. It is ok to grieve retirement. In this season when others are often sharing their family’s joys, know that if you aren’t feeling like you are constantly, fully in the spirit of the season, it is ok.
Grief it is an acknowledgement that you have lost something or someone close to you, dear to you. Acknowledge what you feel, even when it is a complex, jumbled up mess of emotions.
Grief is not tidy. It has its own timeline. It can make you feel as if you are going crazy, as if you might drown in emotion and never stop crying. A quick snippet of a song, a particular smell, going down a certain street can bring a flood of painful thoughts and memories. Sometimes grief bypasses sorrow and flashes into anger instead. It can be a confusing, agonizing, painful experience. It isn’t something you feel for a while and then get over. But as much as it may be tempting to shove it aside, try not to. It is ok to feel it and name it, however often it pops up.
It is also ok to look into the eyes of the people around you, and acknowledge that they have their own pain. They might not understand the depth of your pain, and you might not understand the breadth of theirs. But it is there. Scoot over, make room, and invite them to share their joys and the sorrows. Really listen to them. Find someone who will listen to yours. It is ok to laugh through your tears, ask for help, and to be the one offering help. You are not alone.
If your grief or other emotions are causing you to alter your daily life, please talk with your doctor, a licensed therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist.