(I couldn’t resist this little kitten…remember those stupid posters
that said, ‘hang in there baby’. HA! Anyway, picture found here.)
My bloggy friend Michelle wrote a lovely post yesterday about things that she has learned after her husband was laid off from his job 6 weeks ago. One of the things she mentioned learning was that now she knows what to say to people when they are going through something similar. She’s always been caring and concerned, but now she really *gets* it, you know? The worries and fears and shame that so often go along with such a thing.
That struck me, because since losing my mom, I also *get* it now when someone loses someone very close to them. How the earth seems to tilt off it’s axis, and while you may look like you’re OK, like you’re cooking dinner or reading a book or watching TV, there’s that undercurrent of confusion and shock and deep down sadness. I get it.
One thing that struck me, though, was how welcome it can be to hear good news when your life is hard. Ted was laid off from his job almost 2 weeks before my mom died. To say it was a hard time around here would be an understatement. (Though I will admit freely that I felt selfishly very glad to have him here with me at such a difficult time, instead of him being at work.) We had a friend drop by one day to visit, and pay his condolences, etc. After talking about all of the stuff that was going on with us, we asked how life was going for him. He had just been recruited for a new position, which was paying him more than he had ever made before, and he was excited about the opportunity to grow with this new company. If I remember correctly, they were even going to pay for him to go back to school, something he had been wanting for awhile. He mentioned at one point that he felt guilty coming over and telling us about the good things in his life, when we were going through such a difficult period in ours. But here’s the thing. He wasn’t bragging. He wasn’t showing off. He was just giving us good news. And it felt wonderful. When you feel like the world is falling apart around you, sometimes it’s nice to learn that it’s not that way for everyone. If he had come over and said he had lost his job or his mother had cancer or something, it would have felt like ‘Crap, more of this. Will this year never end?’ And last year did feel like that for us*. So it was great to hear some good news for a change.
So that’s one more thing I learned, between my mom’s illness and death, and both of us being laid off. Don’t keep your good stuff a secret. Even if people may be a bit envious that you’re having good times, it might just be the cool rain they need to soothe them during a rough spot.
* Edited to add that I forgot to mention all of the other things that were hard on us last year. My mom was the worst for me, of course, but Ted’s aunt passed away, his brother had a biking accident and broke his collar bone, and another aunt had surgery on her heart. My uncle and aunt were both laid off from their jobs. My sister-in-law’s father had surgery for lung cancer, then suffered a series of strokes that incapacitated him, and he finally passed away in November. My brother-in-law’s father was diagnosed with cancer, which he died from this year. So for awhile there, it just didn’t feel like there was any good news anywhere. This one bit of good news that our friend brought over was indeed a relief. It was nice to not have to brace yourself for a change, you know?