Counting the Joys & Honoring the Griefs

Counting the Joys & Honoring the Griefs April 3, 2020

My friend Ashley said something earlier this week that I haven’t been able to get out of my head:

Right now, all we can do is count our joys and honor our griefs. 

This is the one thing, the only thing, she can do right now. I wish I could say the same – that I don’t explode in anger when all of this staying indoors and away from other humans doesn’t get the best of me. That I do what I encourage others to do and find beauty in the most unlikely of places, all the blessed, freaking time. That when waves of grief roll over me, I recognize and honor and lean into the source of the pain, instead of running from the water I’m not already drenched in.

But I don’t, at least not always in the moment.

If you’re anything like me – you know, as in, a human – the last couple of weeks have probably been a field day of emotions for you. Now, here’s the thing: field days were really fun when we were ten-year olds. We tied strips of fabric around our legs and partnered up with our best friends for a three-legged race. We threw water balloons at each other. We ate lunch out on the grassy field, we traded whispers, we giggled and laughed until we had to wipe tears from our eyes.

Remember when, remember when, remember when…

But field days of emotions now, when it feels like the losses far exceed the wins, when the sky only seems to offer buckets of rain instead of sunshine? Well, that’s hard.

I don’t think hard means impossible, though.

Because when we live in a both-and world, we learn how to count the joys and honor the grief, at the very same time.

Here’s how that looked for me yesterday afternoon, as I posted about on Instagram:

Me, sad because school is canceled for the year. I’m mostly sad for my boys, for their perfect-for-them teachers and for the friends they don’t get to connect with but over a screen. ⁣

Me, sometimes fearful and overwhelmed of the unknown, of who this virus will steal from each of us, of the mask I’m advised to wear on my face.⁣

And me, saying hi postwoman Maribel (who happens to be reading a copy of my book now – “Are you an author or something? You sure mail a lot of books.” “Well, yeah”). We look each other in the eyes, we say hello, we hold one another’s stories through the glass partition that separates us. ⁣

Me to we, the we of our connectedness, the we of the connection we humans sometimes forget we have with one another simply because we’re humans. Me, excited to see how this human-to-human honoring changes us all on the other side of the pandemic. ⁣

But for now, me, living in the both-and of grief and joy, of great sadness and genuine excitement. Me, in this with you.

So, we count our joys. We honor our griefs. And in doing this, over and over again, we let myriad emotions take up residence in our hearts, perhaps giving one another permission to do the same.

In this with you,


So, what are your joys? What are your griefs? I’m honored to hear and hold this for you. 


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