Ironically, I am writing this on a very gloomy, dreary and yes…gray…day. However, yesterday the sun was shining. It was warm, so I was weeding flowers beds. Crawling across the ground until I came upon a patch of something green that wasn’t supposed to be there, I’d then sit cross-legged until I pulled every weed within arm’s reach. Uncrossing my legs, I’d once again start moving towards my next target. Why was I on my hands and knees between clumps you may ask? Well, it was plum easier than getting up dozens of times. Yep, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

However, the real question is, “Why was I weeding?” Not that the flower beds weren’t in dire need of a manicure. They were. Yet, my coping mechanism when I feel sad, stressed and out-of-sorts is to keep busy. And since this year, for some reason, card by card, my house of cards came tumbling down I have a lot to stay busy about.

Still saddened by the passing of a dear friend and extended family member, I’ve suffered the loss of a familiar part of my life. Thus, I grieve, as we all do when a few cards fall. Also, as many of you know, my mother became very ill in January. Emotionally, it is difficult to see my mother so diminished. Sadly, she is not the same. It pains me greatly to watch her struggle to get through each day. Her illness has taken a toll on her as many, many more cards fell.

So, I grieve. I grieve for the quality of life my mother has lost. I grieve the change to my lifestyle, which I have lost. I grieve the passing of a friend. I also grieve the loss of a relationship unable to sustain after my house of cards tumbled.

Yet, everyone copes with grief differently. For me, I do mindless things. I clean. I weed. I iron. I do anything I can to not ‘think’ about my life. Amazingly, noticing the accomplishments achieved by cleaning, weeding, etc. lifts me up a notch and places a few cards back in place. So, I scrub some more. Or, I weed some more. And more cards float back in place.

Eventually, I exhaust myself physically, while giving my mind and emotions a chance to overcome and recover from the difficulties I have been dealt. Some of you may journal. Writing down all your thoughts and emotions is a great way to deal with grief. Still others may travel, welcoming a change of scenery to refresh their mind and emotions. Others surround themselves with family members. In contrast, some desire solitude. Not everything works for everyone. Yet finding something that works for you is a place to start when your house of cards tumbles down.

It’s nearly impossible to not have grieved, if you have lived. Thus, all of us have experienced grief at some point in our lives. If not over the loss of a loved one, then perhaps the loss of a friendship, your health, employment, a relationship, a pet, or the loss of something personal taken from you. Grief manifests itself in many forms, embraces many subjects and a plethora of emotions. However, please understand grief is natural response. It is not a disorder or pathological condition. Grief is simply our way of handling loss.

Friends, your house of cards is a magnificent thing to behold. You have built your life (house of cards) to your specifications, giving certain areas that extra-special attention. You’ve dedicated hours to your accomplishments. Your house of cards symbolizes everything you hold close to your heart. Then, in the blink of an eye…a card falls. Then another. Sometimes an entire section comes tumbling down. And, as life happens sometimes, once it a while it feels as if the entire house of cards has collapsed.

As sad, often lonely, distressful and painful loss can be…it’s okay. Grieving a loss is natural. Just remember: Cards may fall, but they don’t disappear. They simply lie there…waiting. Waiting until we pick them up, dust them off and carefully put each one back in place. It takes time. But it does happen. And each time we rebuild, we grow stronger in our ability to restack our house of cards.

Can you imagine…building a stronger house of cards?

Smile, you are amazing!

[email protected]