And now, for a post inspired by Sandy and (even though it’s been seven years) Katrina.
Sometimes, something happens and everything changes. This Thing, that you didn’t request and weren’t prepared for, divides your life starkly into a Before and After.
Whether it’s big and universal (a hurricane) or the most quiet and private kind of loss (a miscarriage, an abortion) or somewhere in between — we all have these. There is not one person reading this who will not (if they haven’t already) feel the fabric of your life dissolve, feel like nothing will ever be right again, that something fundamental has left and no longer exists.
The alternative to feeling this way is to not feel anything, at all, ever. If you care about things, about people — and you should; it’s what it means to be human — then in time, you will have to grieve losses. Religion, anxiety, fear, faith, love — none of these things can protect you fully. Tragedies are not mosquitos; fear is not a citronella candle.
It is OK to dissolve, to lay on the floor and cry because you’re too sad to be on a piece of furniture and the only thing that feels right is to be at ground level. You can question everything, you can ask why why why why this had to happen, you can bargain, you can deny, you can do all of these things. It’s OK to go a little or a lot crazy.
But remember, as soon as you can feel something beside the tsunami of sadness, that these experiences are what transform us. They make us feel empathy, they take us outside ourselves, they force us to rely on others, they bring the happinesses we feel into bright, shining contrast, like looking at stars in the country rather than the city.
Something so big and profound, you don’t ever really get over. But you learn to live with the loss. It becomes integrated into your emotional/psychic/spiritual landscape, and slowly erodes enough that it’s not the first thing you see. You are left a larger person than you were before.