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Weathering the storm of grief

Sometimes it's hard to realize you're in the middle of a storm until you finally come out of it. That's where I am right now.

For Matt and I, we've been walking around with a storm cloud over our heads since his dad passed away Jan. 12. Only able to see about 2 inches in front of us, we've been focused on getting through each hour of each day. It's been exhausting and frustrating — often we don't understand why every little thing is such a daunting task, but such is grief.

Sometimes it's the roughest storms that push us out into unknown waters and if our 20-year relationship has taught us anything it's that however long the storm rages, we cling to each other and trust that we'll make it out alive eventually.

The problem with the world we live in is that most of us aren't given the space and time we need to move through our grief without shaming ourselves for our feelings of sadness, heaviness and fatigue. We give in to the pressure society places on us to suck it up, move on and just get over it.

There's no getting over it... ever. And in those weakest moments when Matt has felt lost, guess who he wants to call? His Dad. When Matt's had a rough day and needs someone other than me to vent to, I'd always ask, "Have you called your Dad lately?"

And at the same time, we're both managing anxiety and depression while trying to hold down full-time jobs and keep our heads above water as we continue to come out of this pandemic. I know I haven't been doing my best work lately, but I'm doing the best I can under the circumstances and trying to give myself grace. It helps that I have an amazing work family that supports me and picks up the slack.

Matt on the other hand has not felt the same level of support from the company he's been loyal to for more than 16 years. The company has not handled the pandemic well, Matt worked his ass off during the entire shut down and then was under an extreme amount of stress after his dad died as rumors of layoffs were coming down from corporate.

While Matt survived the first round of layoffs, many employees left and more pressure was put on the limited staff to do the same amount of work. New employees were being hired at close to the same hourly rate Matt was currently making after 16 years. Morale was low, uncertainty was still high, and we knew it was time to get off the sinking ship.

Job search, more uncertainty, starting over — all hard things — but we can do hard things. Matt started a new job at Giles Chemical this week and said good riddance to corporate retail hell. Anyone who knows Matt will understand how hard change is for him, but in the long run we think it's going to be better for his mental health, physical health and our financial future.

As for me, I feel like I can finally exhale after holding my breath for two months hoping for the best but knowing in my heart all these decisions were ultimately in Matt's hands. I'm a fixer so I push a lot, but I knew I couldn't fix this for him. He had to want to do it, and I'm just so thankful that he chose to stand up for himself and believe that he deserves better. And I'm thankful I was willing to sit there in the storm with him and give him the space to figure it out.

So now it feels like that storm cloud is lifting some. We're starting to see a little sunlight on the horizon and we're moving toward it as fast as we can. We know the grief isn't going to go away, we can just hope it becomes easier to accept over time.

After spending a relaxing week on the Outer Banks with my mom and Leilah, I think the fog is clearing in my head and I might finally be ready to get back to the helm of my life, my goals and my passions. It's a new month, a new season and hopefully a new chapter in our lives. That's exciting.

If you're going through your own storm, I pray you'll have patience with yourself. Trust that everything is temporary — as long as it may feel — and there's always hope for a brighter future.

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We can do hard things!! Love you both!!

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