The other day I was down by our turtle pond, a puddle really, and a frog jumped from a shrub into the water. Wow, we are developing out own little ecosystem.
Frogs are happy creatures, they are adrenaline junkies, the risk takers in the amphibious/reptilian world. Turtles are content, they know their path and are confident they will get there—someday. Turtles are not frogs.
You may be a turtle. No judgment. I’m a frog. I watched my own legs grow so I’m gonna use them.
The frog is concerned less with getting there as he is with getting anywhere. But hey, he puts himself out there. He tries. You may have heard about the two frogs that watched the farmer’s wife put a gallon of fresh cow’s milk on the porch to cool. They both jumped in without thinking. Now bobbing in the can, they tried desperately to jump back to safety. Minutes turned into hours, the sun started to set, and the one frog gave up.
“We’ll never make it,” he said, and sunk to the bottom before his buddy could convince him to keep trying.
Now it was dark; dark and cold. Exhausted, the second frog jumped one more time, this time with success. He got out because his jumping churned the milk for hours, it cooled and formed heavy cream on top, and that turned into butter. He didn’t give up. He didn’t know about milk or cream or butter. He just kept jumping.
I’m sure you have heard the simile, “like boiling a frog.”
It refers to slowly taking on more stress in our lives. We don’t recognize the heat is being turned up. We don’t know the stress is boiling us alive. Literally, our body temperature can rise, our heart can beat quicker, we are boiling ourselves in our own stress.
Surviving after someone has died is a huge stressor. Some of it doesn’t go away. Recognizing that, we can do a few things to help us along the journey.
1. I already said it, in so many ways—don’t give up. Don’t stop breathing, just walk, take a step, reach out. Now I’m saying keep jumping. They all mean the same thing. Remember the war movie when the Sergeant yelled, “There are only two types of Marines on this beach, those who are dead, and those who are going to die.” Staying in danger meant sure death. Running to danger meant an uncertain death.
2. Look around, you may be somebody’s dinner. You could be in a bubbling pot of hot water and not even know it. Take stock. Maybe you are surrounded by negatives. People, place, purpose that are dragging you down, holding you back.
3. It’s the uncertainty that is the scariest. The one frog knew what sinking to the bottom meant. The second frog had no idea what was going to happen if he kept jumping but he overcame his anxiety. The first chose death over uncertainty. The second took a chance. He prevailed.
Today, I’m a weather refugee in my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s house in Maryland. Hurricane Florence is fixing to wage war on our home on the outer banks of North Carolina. We’ve been through other hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Maryland that were near misses. This one will be direct. A slow menacing rain and wind machine of epic proportions not seen in North Carolina for over fifty years.
Well, we needed a new roof. Ah, I was hoping the neighbors would trim their trees for a better view. Gee, I always wanted to own waterfront. Humor helps, but when the moment hits, when homes, possibly lives are lost, our lives will be different.
I’m writing to a group of people whose lives are different. You’ve been changed by one moment in time that made all the difference. The impact so great, you will never be the same. Will you rebuild, or will you be a refugee in your own life? Sink or swim Froggie. We sink alone, but we swim together.
Andy is a Clinical Psychologist who lost his son in a tragic motorcycle accident and now authors articles on bereavement. The quiz is available! Go to http://andymdavidson.com/Home/Pgd to find out if you may have Prolonged Grief Disorder. Look forward to his upcoming posts, and book, “When Sunday Smiled.” Follow him at his website, AndyMDavidson.com and Facebook.com/ThroughLifeandLoss to find out more about prolonged grief.