What was supposed to be a fun snow day in October, in seconds turned into our mini horror story.
I've recently discovered that authenticity is a huge core value for me. Not that I didn't know this, it's just come to the forefront in massive way as of recent months. So today I'm going to be 100% real with you. The best way I know how to teach, is to show. The best way I know how to lead, is by example. So here I sit writing at 5 am on a Saturday morning getting ready to pour out my heart. Only holding back a little so that it doesn't seem like I verbally word vomited all over. Here we go.......
Snow in October! It's not unheard of as we live in Montana, but 6-12 inches was quite the storm. We happen to be an entire family of snow lovers. It was an exciting day. Even though school pictures were to happen that afternoon for my youngest girls, they put on all their snow gear and headed out to play before school. They did the same after school. The snow wouldn't be here for long (again because we live in Montana, weather changes quickly) out the door they go, in boots, snow pants, winter coats, hats and gloves.
I'm driving home from work Wednesday evening to receive a call in the car that I need to meet my husband and daughters at the ER because my second youngest hand got her hand stuck in the garage door and "it was bad". My heart immediately began pounding in my ears, blood rush from my face and why couldn't I get my hand to quit tapping the drive shaft like I was jamming out, when there was no music on in the car. I instantly rerouted myself in the direction of the hospital, realizing that when I was half way there, the car behind me wasn't any car but my husbands. He wasn't at the ER like I made up in my head. He had called on his way to the ER and somehow I had manged to get in front of him. We pulled in the ER lot, I drove entirely too quickly to find a parking spot and my husband left his car running in front of the ER doors while he pulled my daughter in to get checked. I ran across the lot in snow boots over
So many questions were being asked by the staff. I couldn't give them answers I didn't know. I relied on my teenager who was home at the time to give them. Apparently it wasn't the big garage door like I had imagined but the door from the garage into the backyard that had caught my daughters hand, with her glove still on, that had us sitting in the ER. The nurses moved to take her vitals and we needed to get her winter coat off which required us removing the washrag and getting her arm out of her winter jacket. Deklans heart began racing her eyes flooded with tears and panic as we moved in tandem to do all that was required. It was in that moment I saw that the top quarter inch or so of her right middle finger had been chopped off. I had to keep moving while attempting to not lose my stomach content. I had to keep speaking calming words while I wanted to scream, I had to be super mom when I wanted to crumble. In that moment I learned that with an injury like hers, they merely clean out the wound, and send her on her way. No reattaching. I knew what that meant, but did my daughter?
We spent the next few hours getting pain meds, numbing her finger, getting xrays to be sure nothing was broken, cleaning out her wound and getting it wrapped up. I quietly sat there on the gurney with Deklan while tears rolled down my face holding my girl. My husband and teenage daughter, tears in their eyes and my youngest softly leaning on the bed somberly staring at our girl, their sister.
After being discharged and coming home for the evening, We were getting settled in, we found the glove that her hand had been in when this all went down. I thought I could clean it up and save us $10. I went to shake it out and in doing so, saw the tip of my daughters finger fly into the garbage can. I BROKE.... Elephant sized tears poured from my eyes, my body convulsed and the weeping began. It was a good 10 minutes before I was able to calm myself. Husband by my side and I let it all go. Everything that had been building since the initial call to get to the ER. I needed to let it out. I had to filter through the 3 million emotions that I felt all at the same time. I had to grieve.
Cuddling my daughter that night, we were having conversations about how her finger was feeling. If she was ok. I'm very real with my kids in these moments. I don't sugar coat and cover things up with metaphors, thus confusing. I'm soft in how we speak about tough situations, but direct in what is actually happening. During this conversation she put her hands up to one another. Measuring each finger against it's counterpart on the other hand. "It's going to be shorter" she said. I agreed with her that it would be. She then, in an analytical way that I've not seen from her before said "it's shorter with the bandage, so when the bandage is off I'm guessing it will be down here" and she pointed to a lower point on her finger. "Yes" I said, you're probably right. "Hhhmmm" she looked at it a bit longer and moved on to her next topic. She amazes me.
Here is why I share this very real moment in my life with the world. Because I often feel that people think because I know grief well, that "I don't need to process it". Because I don't break publicly, doesn't mean I don't break. Because I stood strong for my daughter in a volatile moment, doesn't mean I'm strong. We don't need to put on a front like we have it all together all the time. Grieving and processing your emotions DOES NOT MAKE YOU WEAK, IT MAKES YOU SMART. Here a few takeaways I want to leave you with.
1. You can hold it together in the moment if you need / want to, but please for the love of God and everyone around, allow yourself the time you need to feel your emotions and process through them.
Had I not taken that moment to lose myself, to let the tears come. I could not be there fully for my daughter. I would not have been able to have the conversations after and be truthful with her. If I hadn't allowed myself that moment, the tension in my neck, shoulders and head would have made me sick for the next few days. Had I not allowed myself that moment, I would be on the verge of breakdown at any moment, potentially unleashing my feelings on someone that was undeserving of them. Our society is trained to believe that tears are a sign of weakness, but the truth is.. tears are healing, they are a release, they are beautiful, passionate and loving. Give yourself some grace, and allow yourself the space to process.
2. You can be honest with your children.
I see this a lot, we think we are honest with our kids during tough times, yet we speak in metaphors and fantastical ways when attempting to explain the truth about a tough situation. We confuse the beejezus out of them and think we have done a good job. It's this sort of speak that causes much distress down the road. If I merely told Deklan that she got a booboo, after she gets her bandage off and sees that her finger is significantly shorter, not only have I not eased her into her new reality but I've lied and caused feelings of distrust down the road. Would she be able to trust my words when the next big event happens? She may not say it out right but the questioning would be there. Our kids are smarter than we give them credit for.
3. Give your kids time to process.
While I could have super proud that my daughter got up the very next day and started getting ready for school, that would have been a huge disservice to her. We had to keep her home, we had to walk along side her as she realized that writing is difficult / excruciating and bumping her finger is painful. We had to back the train up for her so that she had time to process her new reality. She needed to learn that she will probably always have to hold her pencil different than she did before. Imagine had she gone back to school in a room full of chaos and had these truths hit her head on, frustration, acting out and anger are three words that come to mind. Kids need time to process just like the rest of us.
4. Acknowledge your losses.
How easy would it be to say "at least it was just the tip of her finger and not the entire thing". Comments like this infuriate me. Don't minimize your loses and don't minimize another persons loss. There is strength & healing in sitting down to acknowledge all that goes into your loss. Things I found during this specific event are:
~ My fear of what other people / kids will say to her
~ My heart is broken that I couldn't protect her from this
~ That Deklan will judge herself or deem herself ugly because her finger is deformed
~ That writing will be difficult for her
~ That jokes will be made in an attempt to lighten her mood on the topic and cause additional harm to her heart that she will silently bare because that is her personality type.
See my list could go on but you get the point. Acknowledging all these events prior to them allows me the opportunity to give grace and to be proactive. I can prevent some of these things from happening just by having conversations with people (I won't need to unleash momma bear for stupid comments because I was proactive in educating people prior to them happening), but also by getting real with myself. Did you see the heart broken statement from above? It would be really easy for me to judge myself as a bad mom, it happens all the time. I need to acknowledge that negative self talk and counter it with positive talk. I am not bad mom because this happened, as a matter of fact I showed up in a way for my daughter that proves the exact opposite.
Acknowledge all that goes into your loses, your future self will thank you for it.
Learning to process your losses and your grief in real time is a skill that can be learned. It can significantly alter the way you feel and move forward in your grief in a positive way. However, just because you know these things doesn't give you a free pass to your feelings when they come. You must filter and process your emotions, but you're learning how to do it in a healthy way. Be real with yourself, be real with your family, be real with the world. Your authenticity will not only impact the way others interact with you but it will ultimately alter, for the positive the way, you interact with yourself. It's okay to tell the truth about yourself in the moment and BE AUTHENTIC.
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