It had been a short time since we’d buried my husband. I was still deep in the confusion, the numbness, and experiencing the random emotional releases that I had no control over.
When he drowned, I had been the Chairman of our large local Homeschool co-op. It was a busy job, and there were often things that needed to be taken care of quickly, and decisions that needed to be made that would affect a lot of people.
My co-chairman took over the first meetings after the funeral, but then I felt like I should get back to work – life had to go on, right?
I went to one meeting, and as things were discussed, it was as if I were watching myself from another person’s eyes. I felt only partially there, and like I couldn’t fully comprehend everything that was going on. As I drove home, I dissolved into tears.
“I can’t do this. I can’t make any decisions. I can’t even understand all they’re talking about. I feel totally inept and useless. Something’s wrong with me! I just can’t do this.”
At home, I stewed and worried. These people I was working with were my dearest friends. I felt I owed them the courtesy of finishing out my year-long commitment. How could I, mid-year, abandon ship and leave them to do the work I had agreed to do?
Yet, it was clear that I was in no shape to lead the organization.
So the next week I showed up at the Board Meeting, stood at the front of the room – and dropped the bombshell.
“I’m stepping down. I’m no good to you right now. There is no way I can lead this group the way it needs to be led this year, and I am so sorry, but I need to resign. Please forgive me.”
They al sat in shocked silence for a moment, but I must say that to their credit, that incredible group of women rallied around me. They said they understood – that they couldn’t do it, either, in that circumstance, and they graciously accepted my resignation.
I berated myself the whole way home. I knew how the load of each of those mothers was now going to be heavier as they took on all I was supposed to be doing. I knew I was disappointing them. I hated myself for not being able to carry on. I felt worthless and useless. and it took a very long time for me to feel that what I had done wasn’t a horrible crime.
While we grieve, it is much too easy to think we have to keep doing all the things we used to do, and to feel down on ourselves if we can’t keep up with it all. Yet, grief itself is intense work, and it takes work and focus. Everyone grieves differently. The depth of our grief and our ability to keep going depend on so many individual things, such as past life experiences, our relationship with the one we’ve lost, our health, our support group, and many more contributing factors.
If you’ve had to step down from something, if you feel you’ve had to ‘disappoint’ others in your inability to keep up with it all, just know – you don’t have to do it all! The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to move through the grieving process – and be gentle with yourself while doing so.