Looking at the Bright Side Can Be Exhausting

by Holly Thompson, April 05, 2020

Live: Find Your Rest

So how do we "rest" from something like this quarantine that is consuming our entire society right now? How do we rest from the constant changes and new things being canceled to absorb, more fear about death, and using all of the energy we have left to "try to be positive." We get to the positive place, and another thing outside of our control knocks us back down to the beginning. This is what is exhausting. The constant cycle without knowing when it will end.

Brene Brown's new podcast is saving me right now. It's called "Unlocking Us" and it is describing and normalizing my feelings around all of the COVID-19 and quarantine.  Things like comparative suffering, feeling ok with moving through the stages of the grief processes as we grieve "normal life" right now, and looking for meaningful moments in all of this float through my ears as tears hit my pillow.  But at the end of the episode, I felt lighter.  I am not alone. All of the mixed emotions are completely normal even if the people around me aren't feeling them. David Kessler was the guest on the episode I listened to the morning after I started writing this. He calls it "Finding Meaning" and it was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I encourage you to find this podcast on your platform of choice or go to the website here. For me, THIS is how I rest. I find solace in feeling known, heard, and validated.


Love: Ditch the Judgment

One thing that really struck me when they mentioned that the biggest wedge inside a marriage when a couple loses a child isn't the actual grief, but it's the judgment of the grief.  And right now, our whole society is grieving the loss of normal. There are a whole bunch of people judging how others are feeling about it.  Think about it, when someone loses a person, there are rings around them. Those in the inner circle (parents, children, spouse for example) should be feeling more grief than those in the outer circles (co-workers, close friends, vs acquaintances).

I have actually said out loud, "I'm not going to go to the funeral. I didn't know them very well and I will be a mess. It isn't about me and my grief, it's about those close to them." (Because let's face it, I'm a mess when it comes to anything a little bit sad.)  I haven't gone to funerals because I knew I would be judged on my outward actions of grief.

So the folks in each circle are only competing for "how bad it is" within the circle.  I have seen families be ripped apart by this. I have also seen families acknowledge this and support each other to be stronger than ever. So here in this situation, EVERYONE is in their own inner circle. Because "The worst grief is ALWAYS your own." And there is a whole lot of judgment around it.


  • "They should be grateful they have a job"
  • "I should just be enjoying this time to slow down and be with my family"
  • "I'm so lucky that my family is healthy, I really just shouldn't be this sad about dumb things like my fancy coffee or getting my hair done"


No one wins when we judge. Either the person we are judging feels awful, or WE feel awful when we judge ourselves. So how about we just realize that everyone is dealing with their own grief, accept them and support them for who they are, and that includes or own.


Find the bright moments or meaning

When we lost one of our closest friends to cancer, I struggled so hard with "the bright side." I just couldn't figure out how to find any positive things that outweigh the complete grief and loss of such an amazing person. If you know me at all, you know that I am an incurable optimist.  I'm constantly finding the positive spin on any tough situation, and if there doesn't deem to be one, I fight tirelessly to find it. But this time I couldn't.

But somewhere in the midst of listening to endless audiobooks and podcasts, I finally settled on this:

"There simply isn't a bright side, but there are bright moments" This allowed me to honor the fact that there was nothing in the world that could take away the magnitude of the grief, but we could continue to look for the smallest moments of joy in the experience.

As I learned of the Minneapolis beaches and pools closing for the summer today, it sent me into tears. I had in my head that this was going to be not so bad by June. My family basically lives at the city pool all summer. I don't want to find new creative things to do with my kids that only include our small backyard. I also know the importance of sacrificing one summer to save lives so then I am wrestling with the guilt of being this sad over a pool.

I can't think of a full bright side to this.  Sure, I love hanging with my kids more. I enjoy the quieter life somedays - but there is a reason I chose a busy life.  I like being busy! It turns out I wouldn't trade being a bit overscheduled for weeks of nothing on the calendar.  It was nice for a while, but I'm rested now. I'm ready to have my life back.

In the absence of a full bright side, I am going to, however, acknowledge some of the bright moments - until of course something rocks my positivity again and the cycle resumes. I hope that each time, it feels easier, but am really ok if it doesn't.


  1. The giggles and snuggles of my kids on a slow morning
  2. No hustle out the door
  3. More sleep
  4. A new challenge to learn how to teach online
  5. More control over my health - food, water, and exercise
  6. Connections with friends who live far away because we wouldn't have thought of a zoom reunion before.
  7. Watching the community come together from a distance
  8. Helping women who need something to throw their passion into find a purpose and income with coaching with me.
  9. Watching my kids be creative in their play with each other
  10. My husband may be able to start his new job earlier than expected.

Serve: Share with us! 

What are your bright moments? We all have them, regardless of how "hard" this is or isn't for each of us. I'd love to hear them! Post them to the community facebook page. Start with "My bright moments today are..."
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