I love sitting still, doing less, and finding ways to just be (more with less). I’ve been practicing this for years, and sometimes I forget that slowing down takes work and practice.
I’ve recently recognized that sometimes doing is essential and occasionally, busyness can be a well deserved distraction. Especially when you are really sad.
I get down like everyone else, but it’s rare that I am really sad. I don’t need much to be happy, and expressing gratitude for what does makes me happy usually has me feeling joyful. This week is a little different.
My daughter is leaving today for Australia. For a year. I’m so happy for her, and excited for her big adventure, but I am already missing her. I will be visiting and I know we will be in touch often, but I love having her close by and the time we spend together. I’ve been preparing for this, but still feel sad. Did I mention she might be gone for a year?
And then came the wrecking ball …
Guinness, our 8-year-old pup has an aggressive form of bone cancer. Last Thursday, I took him to the vet for what I thought was a pulled muscle or tendon, and got the really bad news. Our family is working through this shocking news, trying to keep his pain managed, and thoughtfully considering the treatment options. None of them are easy, or have a very good outcome, but that said, there is nothing I won’t do for this dog.
He came into our lives within weeks after I was diagnosed with MS in 2006 and helped to heal our family. Now it’s our turn to heal him back.
I am really sad.
Because I feel like crying most of the time, I’ve shifted my focus from feeling to doing. I recognize my sadness, but don’t want to feel that sad, so I’m keeping busy. Sometimes when we don’t want to over-feel, we over-do.
If you are sad, I hope this list will help until you feel better.
1. Write: I may not be sharing my feelings with all-day tears, but I am expressing them with ink on paper. I won’t share or keep everything I write about, but it helps to get it out. If you write or enjoy another creative process, use it to help you relax and process.
2. Help: I’ve been running errands and helping my daughter pack and prepare for her trip. She is starting a blog to share her adventures, so I love helping her with that too. Think about others when you are feeling down. Lifting others will lift your spirits too.
3. Clean: Get lost in sweeping or washing dishes. Even laundry can be soothing with the right attitude. I have a feeling that my home will be really clean by the end of the week.
4. Take action: I know I don’t control the outcome of any of this, but implementing a plan and taking action can prevent a downward spiral. The sooner you go from victim to advocate or champion, the better.
5. Move: Working out and taking walks can boost a low point. Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and reduced stress levels.
6. Take care: It’s natural to want to pour all your time and energy into trying to fix everything, even if that means sacrificing self-care. I almost went in this direction until I remembered that in order to give my best, I have to be my best. Eat well and get plenty of sleep.
7. Ask for help. Tell people what you need. Talking to my close friends and family this week has been a huge help. It’s just nice to know they are there. Accept help and listen to advice. Then trust yourself to know what’s best. If your sadness is lasting longer than you think it should, or if you think your sadness is leaning toward depression, ask for professional help.
If you want to help me, please don’t be sad for me. Instead, send your love, prayers, wishes and good thoughts to Guinness. Love has powerful healing properties.
None of these things will take away your sadness, but they will help you get through it. I’ve been using all of these strategies over the past few days and they are helping.
In my experience, one of the benefits of simplifying your life is more happiness, or time to enjoy more happiness, but it doesn’t prevent sad things from happening. Maybe being really sad helps us fully appreciate the real sweetness of life. Don’t judge yourself for crying or feeling down. Take time to be sad, and then get back to the sweetness.
I’ll feel better soon, and if you are really sad, I hope that one of these suggestions helps you feel better too.
Update: I originally wrote this in 2014. My daughter came home a year later and we said goodbye to Guinness in 2015. He had a year of amazing hikes, city walks, extra treats and so much cuddling. You can read more here.