I met Diane when I was in elementary school.  She was a fairly unremarkable figure in my life, then she was just the mother of one of my classmates.  Even though I would see her often through the 12 years of my schooling, she was always just one of the other kids’ moms.  That was until she became the compassionate angel who helped me see how to move forward.

Grief: One small Step that can make ALL the difference

Adulthood has been a rude awakening for me.  I don’t know if it has been for you.  I grew up in a home that was blessedly stable.  My parents worked very hard to make sure that we were well taken care of and were fairly insulated from the challenges that were going on behind the scenes.

Despite that it wasn’t easy for them, I developed a very childish idea of how my life would turn out that left me with a truckload of misconceptions about what was normal.

The only people who died in our family were very old (seemed understandable).  Everyone in our close family owned their own home (I didn’t see how many times those homes were almost lost).  Both of my parents were faithfully employed in jobs that they felt had meaning for them, and provided financially for our family (I didn’t notice the sacrifices).

My childhood perception of life was never hard, or painful, or grindingly sad.  When I envisioned my adult life, I saw something like what my parents had, a life where hard work had consistent benefits, one filled with love and as much family as I could want.

I also had certain life expectations: minimal pain (maybe an annoyance here and there but nothing too dramatic), a stable financial progression to the “good life”, and an unshakable faith in God and His plan for me (but of course it wouldn’t stretch me).

I didn’t expect a car accident to leave me with a lifetime reminder of physical pain.

I didn’t see how hard it would be to come within a breath of losing a home to foreclosure, only to short sell it just in time.

I never imagined the life changing impact of an auto-immune disease that started to change my health in my early twenties.

I never realized the sacrifice of the long hours my husband would have to work away from my family for years on end to just keep the lights on and me at home with our children.

No one in our family had lost a child, so the concept that I would have anything other than multiple uncomplicated pregnancies was completely out of my understanding.  Things like that didn’t happen to people like me.

From the outside it all looked so…simple.

Simple, and neat.  All wrapped up in a perfect little package.

It was just a few months ago, and I had just experienced my fourth miscarriage.  That’s when Diane became more than a classmate’s mom to me.

You see, to the outside I was being brave, and to anyone who read the blog or saw my Facebook posts, I looked like I was handling it amazingly well.

I was handling it fairly well, but inside I just felt empty.  I didn’t know what to do.  Everything seemed too hard to understand.  There were no easy answers and every thought seemed like a dead-end.

I remember I was still in bed that morning, posting from my phone when Diane reached out to me.  I posted asking for encouragement (something I don’t often do) and she shared some advice with me that a friend had given her when she was going through a hard time.

She said: “Just do the right thing.”

That phrase was profound and almost too simple all at the same time.

She told me the right thing is to get out of bed.

The right thing is to eat.

The right thing is being kind to yourself.

That advice has changed me.

I still have bad days.  I think anyone who has gone through loss does.

Now I tell myself to get up and do the next right thing.  Get up.  Get dressed.  Hug my kids.  Eat some breakfast.  Do some laundry.  Take a walk.  Just do the next right thing.

Some days I just go from one “next right thing” to another just to survive it, but at the end of the day I have overcome the day instead of letting it overcome me.  Thank you for this, Diane.

I had the blessing of being able to take a couple of weeks to spend with my family in my hometown shortly afterwards.  During that trip we made a brief road trip to visit my new nephew (he’s pretty amazing, by the way).

I got to ride for a few hours with my younger brother who has a deep love for God and for people.  He always knows how to cut through a conversation to the heart of the matter.  He listened patiently and compassionately to me as I shared what had happened and the deep hurts that still were raw in my soul.

He is a man of few words, and instead of trying to fix it, he shared some music he had on his phone.

This was one of the songs, and as I sat in his front seat silently crying, Diane’s words came back to me.

So today I want to urge you, no matter how bad your situation is, no matter how strong you feel you have to be, just do the next right thing.

I’ll be doing it right along with you. 

Getting out of bed.

Getting dressed.

Eating food.

Taking baby steps towards healing.

So when you just don’t know what to do or how to move forward, just take the next right step my friend.

Just one more step.

P.S.  Thank you for sharing your hearts with me in the comments.  I would love to hear what your next right steps have been, and pray for you as you walk through your challenges.  Would you please share them with me?  I greatly value you!

Grief: One small Step that can make ALL the difference