Get an Umbrella or a Boat
By, Sarah Junghans, PLPC
When I was in high school, my dad told me, “Sometimes in life it feels like everything is raining on you. When that happens, just find an umbrella. Too much rain coming down, find yourself a boat…but none named Titanic!”
I’ve passed that quote along to some of my clients and have reminded myself of it often. Little did my dad know that his advice would have a huge impact on me. (It’s the reason why I love umbrellas so much, too!)
Yes, in life, we have those days, weeks, months, and for some of us, those years where it feels like we can’t catch a break. It’s always raining down hardships and our tears just make bigger puddles. Did my dad literally mean that I should buy an umbrella when things are hard? No. Well, maybe… an umbrella could help when you need to get somewhere and it begins raining…talk about a bad day turned worse when you’re stuck without one!
Metaphorically or symbolically, my dad was telling me that I need to find a way to get through the mess, whatever that difficulty may be. Like we’ve said at The Center for Hope and Healing many times to our clients, you can’t go around your grief; you have to go through it. Is it going to be hard? You bet. It’s arguably the hardest thing you’ll have to do. But in order to heal, you have to allow yourself to go through the “rain.” And like my dad said, when we’re talking about huge losses and difficulties, we better get a boat.
So where are the umbrellas and boats that we can use to help us through it all? That’s for you to find. What works for me might not work for you, but here are some suggestions to get you started on your search. Personally, my umbrellas/boats are a select few people who I know I can trust. After my mom died, I saw who was truly accountable. If or when you’ve found those people in your life, they want to be there for you. You’re not burdening them by calling them at any hour just to sob. You’re not bothering them when you ask the same questions repeatedly, such as, “Why did this happen? When is it going to be easier?” You may feel like you’ve worn out your welcome with them, but you haven’t. That’s why they’re there for you. Let them be. Those people may be family member or friends or sometimes a co worker you hardly spoke to before.
I realize not everyone has people they feel like they can turn to. That’s one of the major reasons I became a grief counselor, is to be there for someone through the “rain.” Our society still sometimes shines a negative light on counseling, but you have to think: If you broke your arm, no one would question if you went to a doctor and got physical therapy. Well, you’re heart is broken, so it’s the same concept. If one-on-one counseling isn’t something you’re ready for yet, maybe try one of our support groups. Sometimes just the strangers in a group become your go-to people. It’s surprising the power of a group. When you listen to other people’s stories, you realize you aren’t crazy or alone like you may have thought before.
So, go out and find your umbrella and/or boat. You’re going to need them to get through your difficulty. As you can see from my dad’s advice (Don’t get a boat named Titanic), he has a great sense of humor and can make me laugh even when I don’t think I can. Find what makes you smile and find what makes you feel comfortable when you lost your smile. Whether that’s a friend, family member, pastor, counselor, support group, or a new hobby or activity, seek it, find it, and embrace it. It will help you get through your downpour. I shared this quote with my best friend almost 10 years ago, and we still send each other cards or texts with pictures of umbrellas when we’re having a hard time just to remind ourselves: The downpour won’t last forever.
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