I’m almost 35 years old. As the world keeps spinning and the day-to-day happens, the more I experience and witness that ever so common phrase we’ve all heard: “Life is hard.” In our younger days, we all had pictures of what life would look like in the appealing world of adulthood. We would marry our college sweetheart, move to a booming city, and nail that dream job. We’d have babies, and a family Labrador retriever that loyally slept at the foot of our bed each night. Oh, and that quaint little house with the white picket fence…you know the one on the cul-de-sac? That’s where you’d call home. Our plans would follow through, and our storybooks would flow seamlessly from one fairy tale to another. But, as “real life” happens, we learn that sometimes things don’t always turn out the way we think they should. Life unfolds differently than the image we had in our head and somewhere, somehow, that intricate picture we’ve imagined since childhood gets altered. More often than not, our hearts are overflowing with gratitude and joy because our picture turns out even better than we could have imagined. And, then ever so often, as life would have it, an unexpected turn occurs. The truth is that real life guarantees that we are all destined to experience loss, disappointment, tragedy, suffering or grief at some point in our lives. It’s that hard part of life we often don’t share through our social media accounts. Though we may be good at hiding it at times, the hard stuff does happen. And, it happens to the best of us.
When I think of heartache in my own life, there are specific moments in time that seem to flash through my mind. Moments like the memory of gripping my brother’s hand as we sat on the pew at our dad’s funeral. Memories of tears streaming down my cheeks as I was rolled into four different operating rooms while my husband and I battled the awful diagnosis of unexplained secondary infertility. Memories of walking alongside dear friends who’ve lost loved ones through tragic accidents, who’ve lost babies through miscarriages, who’ve lost their marriages and jobs and friendships.
This life we’ve been given and the journey of motherhood alone is filled with impeccable beauty, but there will be moments in our lives that bring heartbreak. As I’ve witnessed the pain that friends have experienced during a season of deep sorrow, here’s what I’ve learned: When tender moments happen, some of us are more private than others, and truthfully, everyone handles hardship in a different way. BUT, when tragedy strikes another family member, co-worker or friend, it’s important to say something. You don’t avoid it – you acknowledge it with eye contact. You don’t shoot them a text and then act like nothing happened the next time you meet face to face. You show up to say “I’m sorry” in person or over the phone. And, if you don’t know what to say, a note within a card or a heartfelt hug speaks volumes. Maybe when you attempt to speak, you feel tongue-tied and the words come out in the most awkward way imaginable. But, that’s okay because let me tell you this: possibly worse than hearing faltering words is when we find ourselves left in a silent, lonely room when people say nothing at all.
My point is this: speak to those who are suffering. As moms, it’s easy and routine for us to chat about the weather, our kids, the happy moments, the day-to-day small talk…..but let’s not walk the other way when sadness and disappointment change the course of a friend’s life. Let’s not be scared to approach pain and emotion. Let’s not be afraid of tears and hard topics and expressed feelings. It’s a part of life, and it’s important to know that friends can link arms with friends when our hearts feel shattered. Because the truth is, none of us want to suffer silently. No one wants to walk it alone. It’s also important to consider that people don’t always need advice or a push to encourage them to move on. Sometimes all they really need is an ear to listen and a heart to understand them. Let’s practice the art of speaking up and showing up even if it feels awkward and scary. I can guarantee you that while acknowledging a hard situation may feel scary to you, it will be a blessing to the person experiencing distress. Authentic, heart-felt words are healing and a simple acknowledgement says, “I see you”.
So, when life brings misfortune to those around you, let’s speak life to the brokenhearted.