No road map
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It's difficult and messy, often filled with heartbreak due to illness, poverty, death, divorce, career setbacks, extended-family dysfunction and so many other life challenges. And nobody gives us a road map for how to do a good job of parenting in the midst of heartbreak.
The pain is real
Heartbreak feels like you've been physically hurt - your body is living on stress hormones - depression, anger, anxiety and withdrawal want to become your closest friends -- you question reality and your core values - grieving becomes a new way of walking through your days.
And the ways of coping with heartbreak can take unusual paths.
My children were young when my Dad died unexpectedly. He died in June and for at least the next six months I watched Love Actually almost nightly after putting them to bed. Why this movie? Why the same movie over and over? I don't know.
Sitting in the corner of my couch, tears quietly slipping down my face nightly, there was something in this storytelling which helped my soul begin to find the new normal in life with a hole in it. More than a decade later I still do not know why this particular movie, but I am thankful for its part in the process.
I also prayed, read everything I could about grief, sought out my friends, relied on my husband, cuddled my daughters way more than before (and that's saying it was a lot!) -- really healthy (also more normal) ways to work through heartbreak -- but I know it was watching Love Actually which gave me the chance to just safely feel the pain.
A family season
The heartbreak was not just my own -- my husband lost a great father-in-law, my daughters lost Grandpa Bob/King Bob and all the loving silliness the names imply. Occasionally, now, my daughters will comment on that season of our lives and I'm blown away by their astute observations about how we worked through our grief together -- as a family. Small comments letting me know they were watching and processing alongside me, and that somehow even in the midst of grief, I managed to be a loving and present Mother. I don't know how -- I don't remember specific moments since the heartbreak seemed all-consuming to me, but I am encouraged they remember this really hard time as a season of family.
Ask for help
Sometimes heartbreak, grief gets the better of us. If you struggle with simple daily activities, if you sleep or eat way too much or way too little, if you feel hopeless or withdrawn from those who love you, or if you find yourself relying on alcohol or other substances to get you through the day or night, it's time to ask for help.
ASK FOR HELP.
I did -- a weekly grief support group helped me to better understand what I was experiencing.
Call your doctor. Or call a health hotline -- here are few 24 hour resources.
I am so sorry if you are walking through heartbreak. Regardless of what caused your heartbreak the pain is real. The anger or profound sadness hits breathtakingly fast and without rhyme or reason. It is a struggle to get up in the morning, to keep your faith, to make the next meal or wash the laundry. This is where you live right now and I hope you have someone who will carry your burden with you.
With much love & prayer,