to cope

My big sister (my coworker turned friend turned “we’d like to be roomies” 40 hours a week) lost her real life brother unexpectedly just over a year ago. She sits a foot away from me now and I shimmy behind her chair when she’s not looking. And we talk a lot.

She said something hugely profound a week or two ago when I was upset about my mom. I was saying how I felt like I had been prepared for her passing, but it hasn’t been the case at all. It hurts too much.

She said how it sucks, but one day in the future, it will be easier than the day before.

Is that what coping is? The process of getting to that day?

Apparently cope is from the Latin capa, meaning cape or cloak. My husband was a Latin scholar. His name in class was Romulus. Adorable per usual. I’ll pick his brain on this sucker when he gets home from work, but I’m going to try to work this out. I refuse to think coping is just covering up the underneath, however messy it is.

The psychological definition is “to deal with and attempt to overcome problems and difficulties” and variations of that sort. To deal with problems. In the medical world, we talk about coping skills, defense mechanisms, stressors, the stages of grief, and more. So it’s a little bit of all of that. But there is definitely a wide variation in the stressors and problems we must face in the world. Is coping after the death of a loved one the same as coping during small, potentially good changes?

Maybe. Maybe getting over the loss of a loved one can be easier than it seems right now.

In architecture, coping is defined as “the top layer of a brick or stone wall that is usually higher on one end than the other to allow rain to be carried off easily.” I am not an architecture buff or even a novice beyond the fact that I think that the Eiffel Tower is heaven, so I looked up pictures of this one. The capping off of a wall to allow rain to be carried off easily. Think about it. It’s kind of poetic. Protection against the storm.

It makes me think of the song called “I’ll Cover You” from the musical Rent. It’s sung between two lovers about protecting and loving the other. “Live in my house, I’ll be your shelter…” But what if it wasn’t sung between two people and instead it was between good coping skills and well, you? And what if you didn’t have that shelter over you or the storm got too intense?

I think my big sister was spot-on when she said that one day it won’t hurt as much. One day, my coping skills will be stronger than the storm. Or maybe one day the storm will pass with time alone. I hope that day comes soon.


P.S. Kathy, I apologize for shimmying behind you. I do it out of love. I don’t know what I’d do without you.


One thought on “to cope

  1. Dottie Applei

    You should consider publishing your work into a book of vignettes, some day. I love to read what you write.

    I’m sorry that your heart is grieving. The storm never stops, but the rain eventually turns into showers, leaving the flood behind………that’s when the rainbow appears, and you look upon it, as your heart fills up with love, and you turn your face to the sun and let the warmth embrace your soul…. xo



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