Tonight I’ll dust myself off, tonight I’ll suck my gut in, I’ll face the night and I’ll pretend I got something to believe in.—Jon Bon Jovi
I would very much like to meet the person who came up with the concept that every day is supposed to be bright, cheery, and wonderful. I would very much like to meet this person and come upside their head with a two-by-four. Why? Every day is not good. There is not always a reason to smile. Not every bad situation has a silver lining. Everything does not work out for the best. Some days just suck and to deny that censors feelings we legitimately need, such as anger, disappointment, and grief, if we are to ever improve our world. Remember: there are no bad emotions. Even the non-happy ones have their place.
So, here it is another Friday, the end of the work week, allegedly, and you have at least two, possibly three days off if you work for someone who observes President’s Day. Maybe you have big plans, have already spent a lot of money on deposits and such, and have everything arranged perfectly. You’ve done all you can and you’ve put your best effort into the whole weekend. Then, something happens, something you cannot control. Your father-in-law has a heart attack. Your car engine inexplicably blows a gasket in the middle of an intersection. That lovely person who was supposed to join you this weekend becomes ill and can’t stop puking. One of the children falls and breaks a limb. Suddenly, this Friday stops being happy and now, immediately, sucks. Your plans are ruined, your deposits are non-refundable, and all those perfect arrangements are irrelevant. There’s no recovery.
Sure, the day may suck. What’s important at this point is that you not deny how you feel. Don’t let someone tell you to suck it up. You can’t deal with those emotions until you admit that you have them. Be disappointed, there’s nothing wrong with that. Be angry, not in the sense that you fly off the handle and hurt someone else, but step away and punch the living hell out of a pillow or something. Go outside and scream. Let it out. Deal with those negative emotions.
No matter what we do, no matter how we try to live our lives as joyfully and righteously as possible, there are going to be days that suck, and they’re going to happen when it is least convenient to put up with the sucking. Part of what makes a day suck is that it upsets what we were expecting from the day. Convenience isn’t in the cards when life suddenly turns sour. Even when you have some clue that a day is going to be difficult and you try to prepare yourself for the inevitable, it still can be worse than you ever expected.
My father died 14 years ago. We knew it was coming. If anything, we had hoped the end would come sooner because seeing him suffer through the deterioration caused by cancer was heart-wrenching. When I flew into Tulsa that morning, I knew what I was facing, that the inevitable had finally come. This was not going to be a good day. Yet, for all the mental and emotional preparation I had done, the moment he finally took his last breath, when the grip he had on my hand relaxed for the last time, when the hospice nurse looked at us and shook her head, the wave of grief that swept over me in that moment was unlike anything I had ever felt. This was more than just a bad day.
I didn’t think I would ever feel pain like that again, but I did. Six months and four days later I was called home from the office. Mother had fallen during the night and died quite unexpectedly. Not only was their grief, there was anger. I had just spoken to her the night before. What went wrong? To say that day sucked would be the most severe of understatements.
You’ve had days like that as well, maybe worse. I think of people who lose entire families in one fell swoop. People full of hope and opportunity are suddenly, for any number of reasons, paralyzed or struck with some seemingly random disease that dashes their hopes like glass on a concrete floor. A baby dies. A house catches fire. A dear pet is hit by a car. Those are all days that suck.
People are always trying to take a bad situation and make it better. Stop it. Let us deal appropriately with the bad, recognize tragedy for what it is, and then give people the space to move on in their own time, in their own way. Not every day gets to have a smile. Some days have tears, and that’s okay. Offer a tissue if you want to help, but never tell someone to not cry, to not feel whatever they’re feeling.
Some days just suck. Be a friend and accept that.