Sadness is a part of life. Sometimes it comes about because you dropped the last piece of your favorite candy on the ground, and sometimes it’s because of a life-changing event.
I’ve heard that it’s not the sadness that is important but, rather, how you handle it.
Everyone’s heard, “This too shall pass” or “No use crying over spilled milk.” People are constantly reminding us that life goes on after this event. That no matter how you feel in this instance, in a few days, months, years, decades things will change for you. (Of course, they’re also implying that this change will be better… but that’s neither here nor there.)
It is important to know that life won’t end simply because you’re sad, but what’s really hard is that life does go on.
In my times of woe, people have told me that I’m strong, and that everything will be better again soon. I know it’s true. I know that one day I’ll be able to look back on these memories and smile, but while I’m sad, every happy memory, every thought, leads to pain and sadness. And, knowing that life is going to continue moving forward while I’m stuck in the sludge—for the lack of a better word—sucks.
Being strong has its perks. You can live your life, and you can enjoy people’s company during the hard times. But, what many people don’t realize is, no matter how strong someone is, they still feel the pain.
Strong people are expected to wade through the sludge and come out on the other side with a brighter disposition and a newfound purpose in the world.
As a strong person myself, I can tell you that, while I’m feeling incredibly sad, I also feel incredibly guilty. I feel selfish and silly for wanting my world to pause while I fall to pieces. I want to step away from life for a bit and pretend that none of what is bringing me down actually exists. I want to become Miss Havisham for a few days, weeks, or months, but as it goes, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Instead, I force myself to hold it together. I throw myself into projects or busy myself with work. Sure, I still cry. You stumble across a familiar memory that hits you like a bus, shattering every bit of the façade that you have built up.
It’s in those moments that the ugly sobs come. The ones that have been waiting for such a moment to be let out. That’s also when you get the crazy stares from anyone that might be around to witness this. Immediately, you realize that you’ve shown too much, and with a great withdrawal of breath and a few quick wipes of the face, you draw all of this back in and thrust yourself forward.
I cannot say that I’ve ever been clinically depressed. Overall, I’m a very optimistic and happy person, but I have felt depressed. Everyone has. It’s a part of life. I cannot assume to know how people who are depressed feel on a constant basis. A friend once told me that it feels like you’re drowning, which seems to be the easiest definition to understand.
What I can tell you is that you’re not alone. All of those “strong” people that walk among you that seem to have their lives together. They feel it too. They feel the pain and the sadness. They might process it differently, but it’s still there.
The one thing that hurts strong people the most is telling them that they’re strong when they are at their weakest. I’ve been told that so many times. “You’ll make it through this.” “You’re strong.” “Everything will be okay.” Yes, I know all of these things. But stop saying that. In those moments, I don’t want to be strong. I want someone to wrap their arms around me and let me sob into them like I did when my favorite toy was broken when I was a kid. I want to burrow under the covers in my room and fetal-position it for a day or two.
I know I’ll make it through, but in the first few days or so, I don’t want to feel like I have to be a put-together person when something that I cherished has been yanked from my life.
So, if you know someone that is going through a rough time, don’t tell them inspirational idioms and encourage them to do something productive. Let them do what they feel like they need to do. Tell them that you’re there for them. Tell them that it’s okay to cry. Bring over a ton of movies and snacks and veg out with them on the couch.
Sometimes, words aren’t needed. Sometimes, just a familiar presence can ease the pain. Because when your heart aches, there’s nothing better for it than love and acceptance.