Embrace the Suck
I recently saw a picture of the Chicago Cubs manager, Joe Maddon, in a shirt that simply reads, “Embrace the Suck.” I’d heard the phrase before; but in the moment I was looking at the picture, the phrase really resonated with me.
Because it neatly summarizes my approach to my grief – embrace the suck.
If you haven’t heard it before, it’s a military phrase that succinctly means things are awful, they suck, but you must learn to deal with it.
I think about the phrase often when I’m in the midst of a hard workout and know I need to keep going. Instead of resisting the pain and suffering of pushing my body, I dig deeper because that’s how I’m going to get better and stronger.
Grief seems terribly similar to me.
Grief sucks. It’s hard and it’s painful. There are little reminders everywhere that Brady isn’t here anymore; things that make me well up with tears as my body attempts to flood the pain away. Every time a reminder that this was not how I expected my life to be right now.
So many people have vocalized the desire I think most of you have, that if there were magical words you could say or something you could do to take my pain away, you would. In a heartbeat.
But there isn’t.
There is no way to take away my pain.
And I’m not sure I would want that anyway.
I choose every day to embrace the suck. I lean into the pain because it is a connection point back to Brady, the product of my love for him. I lean into it because (and perhaps most importantly), it is the pathway through. We only get to new life by first going through death. And now my former life, the one I shared with Brady, is dead.
I recognize I probably wouldn’t have the strength to do so without folks around me. I think often of an image we talked about during CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education), a twist on the Good Samaritan parable. We always want to be the Good Samaritan, the one who picks the guy up from the ditch on the side of the road and helps him heal by taking care of his needs. But sometimes people need to be able to do that themselves, or we simply can’t do it for them. Sometimes what they really need are those who are willing to sit in the ditch with them so they aren’t alone.
I’m grateful for those who are willing to sit in the ditch with me – allowing me to cry and not feel the need to stop my tears, listening to me talk about Brady and what life is like now without him, and simply to be with me, reminding me that I am not alone. You all are God incarnate to me – the living embodiment of a God who has embraced the suck and knows what it’s like to lean into the pain. I cry as much for the expressions of love as I do the sadness and pain.
Embrace the suck.