Up until very recently I was proud of my strength.
I thought it was my best trait.
I believed it was the reason I survived the tragedies of my life.
I was strong.
And I was proud of it.
But…during a recent business trip someone said something that made me stop in my tracks.
“Christina, your strength is your achilles heel.”
I knew in that moment that this person was right.
He was so right.
I had been so strong. Maybe I had been too strong.
In that moment, I knew that I had chosen the hard way.
One thing I do not know how to do, to this day, is ask for help.
To ask for something I need.
So, today’s message is about that very difficult thing called ASKING for help after LOSS.
This is no easy request.
How can we ask for help when we think nobody can help us after loss?
The one thing that I know is that we have to practice asking.
And we have to be open to receiving.
BE OPEN TO RECEIVING HELP
I remember having pneumonia one very cold winter and I had no help with the kids. At the time they were only 5 and 7 years old. I left work and went to the doctor’s as I was not feeling well. She told me I had pneumonia, to go home immediately and to ask someone to go pick up the antibiotics from the pharmacy. Of course, I did not call or ask anyone. I went to the pharmacy looking very ill and very weak. A parent of one of my daughter’s friends happened to be there and he saw me. He basically ordered me to go home and that he would be dropping off the antibiotics at my doorstep. He gave me no choice but to go home. I remember how terrible I felt that that this person had to drive all the way up the hill in the snow to bring me my antibiotics. At the time I could not see how sick I was and how I was risking my health. I am still grateful for that person. I know you have been in a similar situation. Don’t let it happen again. Be open to receive the help you need.
DON’T TRY TO PROVE THAT YOU CAN DO IT ALL
I used to hate the weekends. Everyone was with their families and I was always alone the first few years after my loss. Maybe, I was invited to dinners on Friday evenings but very rarely on a Saturday night. That was so tough and I never ever told any of my friends how tough the weekends were for me. I know now that if they knew they would have made sure I had company one way or another. Maybe it is just me but…I felt shame around my weaknesses. I wanted to hide them. I also wanted to prove to everyone that I could do this on my own. That I could raise my kids, have an income, pick them up from school every day and do the grocery shopping. Do everything on my own.
I remember one day it was so slippery out and as I was coming home my car started to spin out of control and I nearly threw us all in the frozen pond outside of my house. I called AAA and they looked at the location of the car and they would not go anywhere near it. They waved and left. I was stuck and I was all alone. One of my friends went and bought so many big bags of salt and brought them to my house. We spent hours salting the road and the area where the car was. I never asked for her help but what she did that day for me will stay in my memory bank forever. I remember trying to convince her not to come and help me, I am so glad she never listened to me. This has been a very delayed lesson for me. I am so very sorry it took me so long to really articulate this to you. I think when we go through really tough times we toughen up so much that we lose our ability to ask for help. And it takes years, and in my case a decade, to see how much harder I made my life after loss because I did not ask for help.
So…if you were to start asking for help what would be the first thing you would ask for?
Is it grocery shopping?
Is it moving furniture?
Is it cleaning?
Is it babysitting?
Is it career advice?
What is it?
I believe in small asks at first.
And I am going to be doing this with you.
If I was to go back to Christina ten years ago after my loss, I would be putting ‘post it notes’ all over my bathroom mirror that said:
It takes a village. Especially after loss.