I needed a nudge.
Sometimes as parents we're so focused on supporting and guiding our children, we forget we're often in need of the very same direction we're trying so hard to give them.
My sweet girl and I have been deep in our conversations lately. She's processing intense loss and grief for the first real time in her life. I've been all in trying to hold her up, guide and love her through.
She's been resistant to leave my side, often tearful, and has been carrying such a broken heart over the death of our beloved dog.
So when my sister reached out last weekend and invited her to lunch (which she turned down), and then called the next day and invited her to poke around a flea market - I nudged her to go.
We talked about how we have to allow ourselves to be sad. That we absolutely have to let ourselves grieve. But we have to also know that the darkness is not our final destination. And that sometimes if we linger too long in the dark, it can be harder to move out of it. That we have to look out for our mental health when we're walking through grief. To nudge ourselves toward the light. It's not ignoring that we're passing through dark, but it's reminding ourselves that we're meant for the light.
We talked about it like nutrition for the brain. That while we're grieving we're laden with so much heaviness. And that it's important we feed and nourish our brain with light too. To laugh, to smile, to feel the rush of a beating heart, to pause while the sun hits our face, to breathe in fresh air, to take in the beauty of nature, to feel your soul inhale from time spent with cup fillers.
I nudged her.
I nudged her to leave the house. I nudged her to leave my side. I nudged her to join her aunt and poke around the flea market. In the hopes that I was nudging her to smile... to feel the light.
And she did. And it fed her some light as she continues to grieve.
But while she was gone... I cried. Because her grief has also been my grief. And I thought about how I've been sitting up late while the rest of the house is sleeping. Grieving my ever companion for almost half my life! And I thought about how I've been waking up, with tears in my eyes before they've even opened. I thought about the darkness I've been drifting in too.
And I realized - I needed a nudge.
To let the light in. To take care of my own mental health, just as I've hovered over hers.
So the last few days I've been nudging myself out in the evenings. I've high-fived my husband as he's taken over command of the ship, laced up my sneakers, and headed out to walk the neighborhood.
To feel the light.
And... ya know what. The light, is good. The sun somehow soothes the soul. Gently. It knows... I'm a little bit tattered. But it still shows up - warm and radiant and permeating. And the wind in the trees, and the sounds of the neighbors, and the colors in the sky, and the quickness in my heart rate as I move...
Nudging. Nudging me toward the light.
And I've been reminded again, how much caretaking we still need while we are in this season of caretaking.
My friends, take care of your own mental health. Make sure you're nourishing your own brain and heart and soul while you uphold that of the ones you love.
Make time to nudge yourself toward the light too.
Because we're not meant to stay in the darkness.