As you read this, please, please do not criticize yourself if you have done the below behaviors. My heart is for women to understand how to lift each other up but if we aren’t honest, we can’t hold onto truth.
Before you offer encouragement…
When I opened my eyes on Easter morning, I saw my ceiling and said “You didn’t come.” It was an accusation of unfulfilled hope. The end times were not upon us. The rapture had not occurred. Dark depression laid on my heart. I sat up in my bed and looked across my room at the empty bed of my 9-year-old. My eyes shifted to look down the hall at the open doors of the empty bedrooms of my 3 other children and I felt the heaviness of my life push me back under my covers.
But wait, it is Easter. The most joyful day of the year. Jesus has risen so why do I feel like it is Good Friday- the day of death? I listened to the battle of contradictions rise to a deafening roar in my mind. The headache came on (we call it a trauma headache), my face began to hurt (we call it a trauma response) and I wanted to go back to sleep but I couldn’t sleep (we call it trauma insomnia). I lay back in bed and stared at the ceiling refusing to embrace the emptiness in my home and attempting to force my mind to go anywhere else so I could escape my current misery.
I had followed helpful advice to prepare for this holiday by planning activities for the weekend (trauma preparedness): have my days busy, do self-care, call friends, have a plan for Easter, don’t self isolate, do things for other people, blah, blah, blah. So why does the ache in my heart gnaw incessantly into this abyss of anguish?
Loss is supposed to hurt. It isn’t going to stop. I’m not sure it will ever feel less like a knife stabbing my core. I suspect every morning I wake up to an empty home, my heart will sink, a little.
I could have called friends and shared my grief. I know they would have been supportive and offered me encouragement. I could have read the Bible. God’s word is supposed to fill voids in our souls. What I couldn’t stand to do was look at Facebook and see the egg hunts and the joyful celebrations of families eating and laughing. And then I felt shame knowing I should rejoice in their happiness.
Holidays are stark reminders of how my life has changed due to circumstances beyond my control. I can’t escape them. I won’t have my children on Christmas this year and I can already feel sorrow and anxiety creeping into my soul. The bleak realization is devastating.
But, I can’t function in the pit of depression my heart aches to hide in. I know I am not alone in this battle. I know there are other warrior moms. Our supporters and cheering squads want us to feel better so they attempt to encourage us. Here are some of the things I have heard: it is just mind over matter, you’ll get through this, call anytime, spend time on yourself, take this time to clean a room, pray. However, the worst I have heard is, "I wish I had a weekend to myself like you do." And none of this well-intended advice removes that dark, intense feeling of loss.
So, what is the solution for our friends? How can they or you help? Just listening to us is huge. Reach out with a text letting us know you are thinking about us but please don't be offended if we don't respond. Send a funny video. For me, the simple acknowledgment from a friend that they are praying for me can help me get through the days. Sometimes I can't speak at all because the grief decimates the possibility of any intelligible communication. I am thankful for the women who touched my soul this Easter.
As a follow-up, the day after Easter was better because that bed across my room had my small lump of joy sleeping in it.
I know God sees warrior moms and wraps His hands around us.
Until the next holiday…
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.