Saturday, I wrote about disappointment based on a real life disappointing scenario I saw happen at the farm.
The next day, I wrote about fear because of one more real life situation.
Today, I’m writing about sadness since we had yet another circumstance unfold that helped me understand it more.
When I woke up with the desire to write on Saturday, after two months, I didn’t know there would be more than one blog post. I certainly didn’t intend to write a series based on rather hard emotions.
Well, now that I’m in an apparent series, I’m really rooting for tomorrow to be a real life JOY scenario so I can write about something to cheer us all up!!!
You’ve probably seen one version or another of the feelings wheel I have pictured above. Core emotions are things like sadness or joy and then the emotions take different forms from there. Seeing versions of this has helped me process what has come out of my kids (heck, anyone) and recognize a reaction might look like one thing but truly be something else at its core.
But right now, we have a core emotion that looks like a core emotion.
I have a child who is sad today. This sadness hit because of something that is happening, none of us have any control over it, and sadness is a perfectly appropriate response for it.
In fact, when I spoke to the child’s siblings about this situation that caused the sadness, each of them (entirely separate from the other, at different times of the day) cried! They each said, “oh no, mom, that isn’t fair, I could handle that but not [insert name]!” I was really hoping to enlist each of them to help me stay upbeat about the circumstance, but their little tear-filled eyes made me dubious they would do much good.
There were a few things that could have mitigated the sadness, but the situation unfolded such that each of these mitigating options went the other way. Sadness compounded.
This is what hit me as I was dealing with the situation unfolding. Every instinct in me wanted to “pretty it up.” Let me put on my fixer hat and figure out a way to “solve the problem.” I was trying to “silver lining” it for this sweet child. Hey hey, I felt like I was dancing, it’s going to be fine, and you’ll end up having fun, and there’s all this good we can’t see right now, yadayadayada.
What I realized, fairly quickly: Wrong Response! What this child needed was not a father’s, “hey don’t cry,” but instead a mother’s, “I am really sorry. This is hard. I know it isn’t what you wanted. It’s okay to be sad – I will be sad with you.” And then sit there, patiently absorbing whatever big reactions came out.
It was also okay for the other two siblings to cry and be sad for their third wombmate. I didn’t need to dismiss them and say, “HEY, cheer up here, I need your help salvaging this situation!!!” The better response was, “Man, you guys sure are lucky to have each other. You understand what is hard on each other, and I’m so thankful for your compassion and empathy in this hard circumstance.”
Yet again, a valuable life lesson gleaned from parenting through the hard. Once more, a lot of real life relevance in 2020.
I listened to one of my best friend’s cry yesterday because of a lot of really sad things happening in her life right now. They are hard things, some very hard, and some less hard which feel harder because of all the crap surrounding it. Instead of looking for a silver lining or trying to fix the series of unfortunate events, my response was similar to my response to my child. “I am really sorry. This is hard. I know it isn’t what you wanted. It’s okay to be sad – I will be sad with you.”
If you are sad, it is okay to be sad. This has been a sad year. We’ve watched explosions and unjust deaths and a global pandemic upend our lives and our plans and our schools. We’ve felt trapped and isolated and that leads to sadness.
Here is my one request: Find Someone Who Will Share Your Sadness. Do not be sad alone. If you need a person to share your sadness with, then I would be more than happy to visit with you. Sharing this burden does not remove the burden, but it does weigh less heavy when you have someone to walk the path with you.
You don’t have to pretty it up. We will, I firmly believe, be okay and come out of this, but in the middle of the dark valley, we are all allowed to cry and suffer. Just don’t do it alone.
Love you friends. Absolutely planning for joy to come in the morning.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5
(Wheel courtesy of Gottman)