As a mom of 3 kids, my year revolves more around the school calendar than the actual calendar. June becomes the end of the year, with many goodbyes, often sad and tearful ones. But that’s ok. Sometimes tears and sadness are exactly what is called for.
Sadness is not Depression
I have a client who is struggling to manage depression. She often feels sad and hopeless for no particular reason. The other day, she was sharing about feeling sad and crying when saying goodbye to an amazing teacher and classmates with whom she has bonded, deeply. I supported her in that sadness. I differentiated that sadness as healthy and true, a genuine experience that made sense and deserved her attention and expression.
Many times we shy away from sadness and…God forbid…crying…because we don’t want to be seen as weak. Or we’re scared of getting lost in the sadness, of falling into it and not being able to recover. Or we just don’t want to feel yucky. Well, sadness is a part of life, and denying or avoiding it is just denying and avoiding a part of who we are. It also cuts us off from other people because we are not connecting with them in a real, genuine way.
Goodbyes are Important
I have worked as a school counselor for 5 years, and I believe in the importance of a good goodbye. My job at the school is teaching kids how to identify, express and accept their feelings. Facing a farewell head-on, not avoiding how hard it can be to say goodbye, ends up being my final lesson to them, my parting gift. There are often tears, and I am fine with that. Actually, I am more than fine with that. Because when those kids are sad about saying goodbye, and when they can express that sadness, that means I have done my job well. Not that my job is to make kids cry, but hopefully you see my point.
Over the years, I have learned to be prepared for being emotionally exhausted at this time of year.
Graduations are happy celebrations of accomplishments but also endings and farewells. Moving on to a new school, a new class, a new group is a fresh and exciting beginning but also an ending. And endings are often sad.
And feeling sad can wear you out!
So, it’s important to take care of yourself! Letting yourself feel what you feel, giving yourself permission to feel sad, is one vital way to take care of yourself. Seeking comfort from and connection with others can be a positive self-care strategy as well. Or maybe you need to be alone to really feel your sadness, and that’s ok too. Get sleep, eat healthy, take a walk, breathe. Those things will help, too. Figure out what you need, and then give yourself permission to do that.
Goodbyes are a part of life. Sadness is a part of life. Living your life fully means embracing all of life’s experiences, even the tough ones. Accept that, say goodbye, shed a tear or two (or many) and move on to the next beginning. Of course, that will lead to another ending and another goodbye, and so on and so on and so on…