The Day the Flood Gates Opened
As I stepped onto my basement floor, I felt ice-cold water beneath my feet and looked around.
The place was soaked. Water was everywhere. It felt like the flood gates had just opened up on our family. I watched the water move. It was coming from a wall on one side of the room and out of the seal of a pipe in another part of the basement. I became overwhelmed. How I was going to get it cleaned up in time for work?
There was a sense of urgency to just get it all cleaned up fast. It was messy. I was angry, sad. I began praying to God to make it stop raining, so that I could clean up the basement floor. Five inches of rain in one night. That is a lot of water.
I felt like I was drowning. The feeling of the cold water under my feet. The pressure in my body as I was trying to clean it up as quickly as possible, Water going everywhere, No direction, No way to secure it from moving to different parts of the room. I thought the task was never going to end.
The rain was still falling, and so the water kept surging. Towels were soaking it up, but I didn’t have enough. I would pick up the towel and empty it, only to find more water soaking the section of the floor I’d just mopped.
I stopped for a moment, remembering how nice the basement had looked. We had just painted it and put down new flooring this spring. But now, it was all ruined.
At one point I just gave up. I sat down and cried in frustration. You can’t move water around forever. It was rushing all around my once-safe space. I had to pause and take a breath.
While I knew I wouldn’t drown in five inches of water, I felt helpless; wishing it would all stop, so I could get on with my life. I spent hours in that place, hoping to feel some sense of relief, wanting so much for the rain to stop flooding my once peaceful refuge from all the stressors of the world.
I felt like one BIG ball of emotions - anger, sadness, frustration, fear, loneliness. It was never-ending and relentless. It felt like this was my new permanent place.
Thankfully, my husband came home and helped me through it. He was able to stop the water from the broken seal and comfort me. Some relief was in sight! The leak from the wall will have to be dealt with once the rain stops. But, for now, the floodgates have closed.
Through all of this, I became inspired. I thought, Grief is a lot like a flood gate. It comes to us unexpectedly, sometimes overwhelming us from different angles. Grief moves us to unknown places. It can be overwhelming and takes many forms, often flooding us with emotions.
It affects us in ways that surprise us. Just when we think we have moved through it, the rainfall begins again, and we’re flooded with new emotions, moving everywhere - sometimes quickly.
We may feel isolated and alone. These emotions can overwhelm us at any time without warning. We want the emotional pain to stop, but often this is out of our control.
So, we pray. We ponder. We resist. We bargain. And then, we remember.
When it gets to be too much, we slowly begin releasing the pain and frustration, allowing ourselves to feel it. We want to get back to ‘normal,’ but our normal will never quite be the same.
We begin to search for a ‘new normal.’ We use our supports and work together with others to find it. It will be different. We are forever changed. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be beautiful again.
It also doesn’t mean that the floodwaters won’t come back and greet us again. They will. And when they first come, they’ll surprise and overwhelm us when we least expect it.
But, this time, we’ll be better prepared. This time, we’ll pause before diving in, as we remember to move and work slowly, little by little. This time, we’ll remember to take a few moments to breathe while we wait for the rain to subside. And while we wait, we’ll take stock in the promise, in the hope – that eventually the flood gates will once again close. And just like before, we will get through this - together.
"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you." - Isaiah 43:2