I was driving to the grocery store to buy our usual week’s worth of groceries, thankful the store I like to shop at is still open, and it was my first real break from my husband and children in days as we have been practicing social distancing.
I must say, I’m a tough cookie. I recognize my emotions and how to handle them. I talk a lot about my feelings and even write to get my feelings out in a more focused manner. I would consider myself to be emotionally mature and fairly resilient.
And, yet… on that drive, while alone, seeing how empty the downtown core of my small town is, I just lost it. I sobbed. Bawled my eyes out like a little child whose security blanket was taken away.
Then I felt guilty. I have four healthy kids; I have a healthy husband. We have groceries. We are at home enjoying our time together for the most part. Our cancelled vacation was fully refundable. Our parents are not in nursing homes, or hospitals. Really, we are facing this with optimism because of circumstances, and I know so many others aren’t as fortunate.
Now, I’m at a red light. I’m a hot, crying, guilty mess. I feel so much empathy for the seniors around me, the lonely, the destitute, the folks who can’t afford to stock up, or take time off work. There are people around us who have it so much more challenging than I do, and yet, I am the one crying my eyes out!
I’m crying for all those people because as an empath, their stories plague me.
And I am also crying for me.
For the vacation I have missed that my children were so excited for.
For the cancelled karate lessons, gymnastics classes, swimming lessons, and all the hard work and effort that my kids were putting into these activities that abruptly ended.
For my husband who has an essential job and faces the possibility of being forced to stay at work.
For myself, the social butterfly, often the last to leave parties, church or social events because I just love the people around me so deeply.
For my parents who are over sixty and are at a higher risk, and the helplessness that I feel for them.
For the senior man at the grocery store who walked down every aisle looking for hand sanitizer and was told none had been in stock since February. I felt his fear deep in my own bones.
For my son’s best friend whose Make-A-Wish Disney trip was abruptly cancelled.
For the neighbors who I am missing having chats with when we are fortunate enough to catch each other outside at the same time.
For the playdates my kids wish we could plan with their friends.
For the conference a friend and I were so excited to go to, our big mom’s night off.
For the local businesses that I love to shop at.
For the secretaries at the chiropractors, the doctors, the dentist and other places who I enjoy chatting with that have all been calling to cancel and reschedule.
For the teachers who were not prepared for this and didn’t send students home with work–and now feel apprehension for the kids they can’t teach.
For my husband whose birthday is approaching and may not be celebrated as usual.
For the kids who have difficult home lives and are struggling.
For the people I don’t know how to help.
All of us. I am crying for all of us. No matter who you are, or what resources you have or don’t, this time is going to give us all unique struggles.
And it’s okay to cry.
It’s okay to mourn the events that are cancelled. It is okay to mourn the celebrations we are missing out. It’s okay to cry tears of worry for our parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, and businesses.
It’s okay to cry because these times are challenging. They are unlike anything most of us have seen, or even imagined a few weeks ago.
You can cry without giving into the ugliness of fear. I think I needed to realize that. Perhaps you do too. We can mourn all that has ended so abruptly without giving in to the fear of the unknown that is yet to come.
I am not afraid. I serve a God who is bigger than any virus. I have what I need. I am home safe.
But I’m allowing myself to be sad and to cry when I need to.
It’s good to cry.
Let the bad feelings out so you can get through this as well as possible. Staying healthy means staying emotionally healthy too, and sometimes you need to take a few minutes to let it all out. And that is okay.