You can’t pour from an empty cup

Cindy and I have been friends for a long time – 20+ years now, but we have the kind of friendship where we can go for months and months without seeing each other but when we do finally get together, we pick up right where we left off and spend the next several hours talking nonstop. 

Early last week, Cindy was on my mind and I made a mental note to myself to call her and make an effort to meet up for lunch with her soon. Then late last week, I noticed that she was posting lots of photos of her husband on Facebook. Later that night she texted me: her husband had been diagnosed with cancer just a few months earlier – he didn’t want anyone to know – and hospice had been called in. Early the next morning, another text: he had passed away in the early hours of the morning. He was 58. 

I am so sad for my friend. She and her husband had a very loving Christ-centered marriage and were the very definition of a “team”; they depended on and supported each other greatly. He often referred to her as his bride, even though they had been married for over 30 years. 

I talked to Emily a couple of days ago and she gave me some very good advice. She said, “I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but you need to prioritize yourself right now – you need to take good care of yourself and accumulate some positive experiences so that when you see your friend, you can be in a place emotionally to bolster her, not weigh her down.” It does sound counter-intuitive to look for positives during such a hard time, but she’s right. I don’t want to bring my negative energy to Cindy, I want to be strong enough to let her lean on me if she needs it. And it’s not about being Suzy Sunshine and glossing over the tragedy of his passing, it’s about taking care of myself, so I can be healthy enough to bring a little light into her day, the last thing I want is for her to feel bad that I feel bad! So even though I am sad, I am trying to do things that will make me feel better instead of just wallowing in the sadness (caveat: I did spend the day Saturday feeling sad and cranky. The dam finally broke when late in the afternoon I went to make cookies for my husband and realized we were out of brown sugar. I threw a little temper tantrum, then dejectedly threw myself onto my bed, covered my head with blankets and quietly sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed some more. Obviously, my tears had nothing to do with brown sugar.) 

Since my cathartic little meltdown, I have felt better. I have no doubt that I will again shed enough tears to fill a river when I go to the funeral tomorrow, but that’s okay, it’s expected. However, in a few weeks or so (or sooner if needed) when Cindy and I get together I will make sure that I have filled my own cup with self-care and kindness, so that I can pour some of myself into her cup and maybe it will lift her spirits, even if only a little bit. 

Cindy and I getting ready to run a 5k back in 2014.

6 thoughts on “You can’t pour from an empty cup

    1. Yeah…that was not my finest moment. I’m sure my husband and my daughter were both scratching their heads thinking “wow I had no idea brown sugar meant that much to her!!”

  1. It is so true, this empty cup business. Particularly for so many women who tend to take care of everyone else around them and never have the time to take care of themselves! I’m so sorry for your and your friend’s loss, I can’t imagine having something like that happen, especially this time of year.

  2. I’m so sorry for your friend (and you, too). My husband is 58 with a heart condition, so this hits home. I have a friend (who also happens to be a pastor) who tells me that a meltdown every now and then is a good thing. I’ll be praying for you (and your friend, too) as you support her through this time of grief.

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