Grief and Suffering

It’s Okay To Be Sad

Today I spent several hours on the couch.

When this happens (and it happens often) I’m not just resting or laying down. Usually, my oxygen levels drop (several times to as low as 41–“corpse levels,” my doctor said) but not always. Sometimes, my body shuts down-I can’t talk, can’t move. My body feels hot and cold at the same time. I’m dehydrated but I don’t feel thirsty. Or I’m thirsty but too nauseated to drink. I have to put my feet up, drink water, and hope I’ll feel better soon, but knowing it could be hours.

Inevitably this occurs when we need to leave the house. We’ve been in our current house for several months. I’ve left maybe four times.

I find it hard to describe the feeling of defeat, not able to even communicate that I need someone to help me put my feet up or fetch a glass of water. We’re not sure why it happens-am I just anxious about going out? Then, it tends to happen more often when I’ve been exposed to various toxins. And there’s a time frame-most attacks occur about 11:00 AM.

It’s never been diagnosed-it’s just somewhere between Lyme disease, Bartonella, mold toxicity, POTS, hypoxemia…shall I go on? I used to be able to count my illnesses on one hand, then two. Now I might be able to fit them on toes and fingers.

This is my battle. Actually, it’s just one of my battles. Please don’t pretend you know exactly what I’m going through. Please don’t imply that it’s not that bad. Please don’t ask me if I’d like to take this or that supplement to fix it.

I don’t know your battle. I won’t pretend to know exactly what you’re going through. I won’t imply that I’ve experienced something similar and minimize your pain. I won’t try to fix your problem.

One thing that this illness has taught me is that we all face great hurdles. People tend to make assumptions and try to fix your problems. Whenever I open up and share about my illness, I wait to see if you’ll cut my words down with, “Oh, everyone’s tired sometimes.” I promise everyone isn’t tired like I am.

I used to try to fix everyone’s problems, to dismiss them with a quick, “Oh, if they only did _______, they’d be fine.” Now, I’m slowly learning that when people share their struggle, most times they don’t want your help.

They want your compassion. They want your love. And they want a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.

What a fool I was to think I could fix people. But it’s not foolish to try to love someone.

If your pain has ever been dismissed, I’m so sorry. If you face challenges that threaten to drown you, I’m so sorry. If you find yourself alone in a world of people who think you should buck up and bear it, don’t let yourself think the same way.

It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to mourn the life you couldn’t or didn’t or won’t live. It’s okay to voice your struggles without saying, “The Lord is good.” It’s okay to cry.

It’s okay to not have the right answer. It’s okay to simply be there for a friend. It’s okay to cry with them and leave without offering advice.

It’s okay.

This pain is not okay. It’s not the way God designed our world. Yes, God does work through Satan’s evil. But that doesn’t make evil good. It just shows how awesome God is, to be able to redeem the worst of situations and bring blessings out of blackness.

The next time you feel you shouldn’t show your heart in front of a friend or the next time you can see judgment and “Why can’t she just live with it?” in someone’s eyes, remember: you don’t have to waste breath explaining how you feel to someone who doesn’t care.

I’m not suggesting you drown yourself in sensibility or let your emotions control you. But don’t be afraid of grief.

The next time a friend shares some hardship in their life, please don’t compare it to your battle. You don’t know what they are facing. To some a molehill is a mountain. Don’t compare. Give advice if you sense they’d appreciate it. Say the hard things when you have to. But please don’t minimize their pain.

Grief is not wrong. It is natural. In your rush for joy and peace, remember that while God did command us to rejoice, He also said we are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” (2 Cor 6:10)

Rejoice in His continued love, even when you can’t feel it. But don’t be afraid to have a good old-fashioned cry.

I’ve found them to be relieving. And when I’m honest about my feelings, the people who truly love me can help me.

Don’t bottle it all up inside and try to move on.

It’s okay to cry.

How do you feel about crying? Does it help you?

Has someone ever blessed you with their words when you were struggling? Have you ever been wounded by dismissal? How can we learn to encourage the suffering better? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

7 thoughts on “It’s Okay To Be Sad

  1. Very thoughtful essay…..Ultimately we ALL live in our private world, within ourself, and with our God as the sole witness. We can reach out to others, but it is ONLY with the peace that God gives, that we can find real comfort and rest.

  2. Job’s friends sat with him for days without speaking. I honestly think this was the best thing they did-being silently supportive. Everyone who knows the story also knows that their error was trying to tell him what was happening and why, to fix the problem, to play God.

    It is hard to know how to respond to pain in someone else’s life. Trying to provide answers seems to be a common impulse. I have heard you make the point you made in this post before in several different ways, and each time it has hit home. It may be foreign to think that staying silent or sharing in tears can be and is more helpful than groping for rhyme and reason and offering advice, but your testimony is proof of it. And I do know personally that just having someone sit with me while I’m crying can be one of the most touchingly precious experiences in life.

    Yes, I think crying does help. I usually do everything I can to prevent it from happening because it it feels as if it will only make the situation worse, but in actuality all it is is acknowledging how bad things are. It is a form of release and it is only a step away from recovering myself and moving forward. Crying isn’t fun, but you do feel better afterward, and crying with someone else can sometimes double that effect. Thank you for the post!!! I look forward to reading other comments on it. 😊

    1. “Job’s friends sat with him for days without speaking. I honestly think this was the best thing they did-being silently supportive.” Yes yes and yes, Michaela! I never thought about how crying with someone helps. But that’s true!!

  3. Your parents sent us a share check because we belong to Samaritan Ministries. In the card, along with her sweet words, your mom gave me the address to your blog. I am glad she did. Right after my brain surgery (3 months ago), I received a card from an old friend whom I had not talked to in years. She has had 7 spine surgeries. She wrote in the card that if I wanted to talk, please call her. Well, I didn’t, then I saw her a few days ago in town and she gave me a big hug and offered the same thing. I am going to meet with her to talk about pain, healing and hope (emotional, spiritual, physical). So, to answer your question, “Has someone ever blessed you with their words when you were struggling?” Yes, two people recently have. Your mom and my old friend. Both of them just offered; offered a blog site and offered a space to talk. Neither of them pushed their thought or theories on pain and healing. Neither of them said I should read the blog or should get together. The just offered with very few words. That is what I appreciated. That is how I was blessed. (Please give your mom a “thank you” from me.). Thank you for your raw honesty on this blog.

    1. That’s SO beautiful, Christine-just a few gentle words. I’ll have to remember that next time I’m tempted to force my ideas on someone.
      I pray your heart is healed by our Father in Heaven!
      And you’re so welcome! I think it’s so important to be able to stop and process our pain, even though it’s really hard. <3

  4. Everything in this post resonates with me. It feels like you’ve poured out and made sense of a dozen conversations I’ve had in my head multiple times. Thank you for sharing this, Bethany! I remember clearly when I was having terrifying nightmares that got to the point I was hallucinating after I woke up. I came downstairs one morning, and curled up on the couch with a close friend (she’s one of my adopted aunts), and just sobbed and told her about it. She didn’t really say anything, but just let me snuggle up next to her, and let my pain out. I’ve found that tears only come when I finally accept something. No tears is the most painful thing. Don’t get me wrong, real tears and sobs hurt. A. Lot. But, when you internalize, and constantly try to deny what your dealing with, and deny the grief, you only make it worse. I know I do. The Lord is always listening to our broken-hearted prayers, as much as our rainy-day and blue-for-no-known-reason thoughts. I just have to remind myself that He’s listening. I often pray for a “Heavenly hug”, because hugs are my emotional morphine, but also one of the main ways I love on my family. The more things I’ve gone through, the more I learn to just listen to people. And, I love this quote someone shared once, “Listen to understand, not to answer.”

What did you think?