Thursday, November 17, 2011

Learning to dance in the rain

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.    

It was Vivian Green who said, “Life's not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.”  Life presents storms; if we wait for one to pass, inevitably another lurks on the horizon or angrily stomps its way into our lives—not to be overlooked nor avoided.
So many factors enter our lives uninvited and, for the most part, unwanted.  Think about those in the midst of divorce, out-of-work, financially challenged, taking care of elderly or physically challenged family members, dealing with the death of a parent, child, or spouse, or in other similar traumatic circumstances.  The number of potential factors, of course, is overwhelming.  Any of them can put our lives on hold, arrest plans, or cause an uncontrollable tailspin, the likes of which we have not previously known.
Meanwhile—while the tempest rants, raves, and bellows at our senses—we are at the mercy of its unyielding energy.  Meanwhile, too, time ticks away.  If we do not learn how to dance in the rain, there may be no time for dancing at all.
This essay is not making a case for being carefree, flippant, or nonchalant during times of extreme stress; however, a case needs to be made for not shelving our freedoms, joys, and  happiness when such times occur.  There still needs to be time for us—for dancing in the rain.  Plans can continue, and lives can and must go on—the storms will pass.
At TeensHealth from Nemours, the author of the essay, “People React Emotionally and Physically,” writes in the first paragraph, “When coping with a death [or any traumatic circumstance], you may go through all kinds of emotions. You may be sad, worried, or scared. You might be shocked, unprepared, or confused. You might be feeling angry, cheated, relieved, guilty, exhausted, or just plain empty. Your emotions might be stronger or deeper than usual or mixed together in ways you've never experienced before.”  
Later in this same essay, the author writes, “No matter how you choose to grieve, there's no one right way to do it. The grieving process is a gradual one that lasts longer for some people than others. There may be times when you worry that you'll never enjoy life the same way again, but this is a natural reaction after a loss.”
One important point in dealing with the storms that come into our lives is to be mentally and physically strong—learn to dance well before the storms—for it is only in this condition that one can expect to face and weather them effectively.  When storms catch us already mentally and physically drained, the challenge can quickly become too much.  Exercising, eating right, and getting sufficient sleep provides a strong foundation from which good decisions can be made and appropriate responses and reactions can be offered.
Learning to dance in the rain means caring for yourself throughout a storm.  There are a number of “understandings” that will assist in the “dance.”  For example, realize that you are not being “singled out.”  Such traumas (no matter how extreme) happen to everyone, and they are—unfortunately—part of life.  To live is to suffer trauma.  
Do not isolate yourself.  Family, friends, and neighbors offer support and encouragement.  They are there to fortify a broken spirit, buoy up a grief-stricken heart, and shore up a battered mindset.  Isolation is not good.  It is the very thing that leads people to severe depressive episodes, and even worse, thoughts of suicide.
Permit some cathartic release.  Some people find release of their pent-up emotions through talking with others.  Talk about your feelings; tell of your emotional connections; relate the story of what has happened to you.  Another way to express yourself is through writing.  Use your diary or create a daily log of your thoughts and feelings.  Some, too, will write a story, article, song, essay, poem, or book.  This may become a tribute, or it may simply be a way to find some closure to all that has happened.
Do not drop out.  Traumas can be so overwhelming they cause some to say, “Why go on at all?”  “What difference does living make?”  “Now there is no purpose in life.”  Devastating should never be the same as destructive.  We can be devastated by a traumatic event, but in no way should that be cause for us to drop out or destroy our life.  The human spirit is amazingly resilient, and, although it is difficult to fathom it when in the midst of severe trauma, life can have meaning and joy again—if you have learned to dance before and during the storm.
At the web site, Mothering Mother and More the essay there by Carol Dodell, “Can you Grieve too Much?” includes the following paragraph about learning to dance in the rain, “Some people can and need to go right back into their jobs and life after a tragedy. It makes them feel normal, safe, that life has some continuity and gives their life meaning. These are good reasons to keep on course, and if that’s what you need, what works for you, then don’t feel guilty or think you’re not showing the proper response of grief just because you can go on with you life.”  
At LegacyConnect, “How Long Is This Grieving Going to Last?” Dr. Elizabeth Harper Neeld writes, “That the amount of kairos time [‘the time within which personal life moves forward.’] it takes each of us to reach a place where the loss is integrated into our lives but does not dominate our lives is longer than ‘the person on the street’ might suggest. Many folks around us would like for the process to be shorter rather than longer because they are not comfortable with the whole experience of grieving. As a society, we have cultural practices that suggest grieving should be short. (Don’t, for instance, many government workers get three days off when they lose a family member?)”
The quotation by Vivian Green, “Life's not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain,” carries great significance and meaning.  Those already dancing or preparing themselves to dance are likely to be those in the best position to weather storms.  The storms will come.  Whether liked, welcomed, or otherwise brought forth, they are part of existence.  Those who understand, and take to heart, the meaning of Green’s aphorism will experience life’s pleasures even when ravaged by life’s tempestuous nature.
At extension (Ohio state University Extension), the essay there, “Loss and Grief—Activities to Help You Grieve,” adapted from GriefWorks, Sam Quick, Professor Emeritus, Human Development and Family Relations Specialist, Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, offers twenty excellent practical suggestions that may assist in anyone’s journey of healing and growth.

At a web site labeled Grief and Loss there are three sections: 1) How to recognize the symptoms of Grief, 2) The Tasks of Grief that must be undertaken, and 3) The Stages of Grief.  All are good.  All offer excellent ideas and suggestions.
Copyright November, 2011, by And Then Some Publishing, LLC.



  1. You've did great work, i've never known about many phrases. And advices are very useful, so, great post!

  2. Maximillion Ryan IIINovember 17, 2011 at 7:56 AM

    Allow yourself that moment in time to completely lose yourself to the sadness - but make it only a moment. Catharsis comes when we can leave it at that moment and move on - have a sense of humor, and find the joy even in the sadness!


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