Yesterday a friend from Dallas came to visit and as we drove into town on Kingwood Drive she asked about the devastation.  In that moment, I realized that to her things seemed very normal here.  The adrenaline surge that we felt the last few weeks was gone.  Traffic was not congested, donation centers and shelters were not evident, and volunteers were now out shopping and having lunch instead of delivering sandwiches or ripping out sheetrock.  I drove through Barrington for her to see the wreckage, and while the mounds of trash provided evidence of the flood, very few people were outside.  It was then that I knew that there would now be room for people to start feeling sadness.  In the early stages of grief, we are too busy or too numb to feel sad, even though the situation warrants it.  It is not until we settle into the fact that our life is profoundly different in an unwanted way that we start to sow the seeds of sadness.  People who were less affected by Harvey are moving back into normal routines. And while people who had to leave their homes are trying to get back into normal routines, things are far from normal, and they are feeling it.  Sadness is an expected emotion because it is tied to something missing in our life.  Even if people have accepted the loss of material things, they are still experiencing the loss of the comfort of their daily routines.  Sadness is one of the most uncomfortable emotions we can feel.  People who experience it want it to go away quickly and people who witness in others want to make them feel happy instead of sad.  But we must be careful not to jump past sadness too quickly.  Sadness is a productive emotion because when we allow ourselves to feel it we can better figure out our next steps. It serves like a GPS, guiding us in the right direction.  When we try to fight it, we may find that it settles into hopelessness, despair and deep depression.  Being emotionally healthy means that we honor our feelings, and that includes being able to sit with uncomfortable emotions at times.  It is important to talk about your loss and sadness but so often we force a happy smile so as not to make others uncomfortable.  We fear that expression of sadness will weaken us, but the opposite is true.  If you are starting to feel the weight of sadness, it might be time to talk to a compassionate friend or get some counseling. If you are witnessing someone’s sadness, you might feel uncomfortable but just try to listen.   Feeling heard and understood helps.  Don’t try to get them off of the feeling by offering hollow platitudes.   Recognize your own discomfort, but try hard to tune into the other’s sadness and offer validation and empathy for what they are feeling in the moment.  Our tendency is say things like “It will be OK” or “I am sure God has great things in store for you” or “Count your blessings instead of your losses”.  All of those things may be true, but they are emotionally dismissive statements and don’t invite others to fully feel their emotions.  We especially do that with children because we hate when kids are sad, but the best thing we can do for a child is to help them understand that what they are feeling is normal.  What has happened warrants sadness and if they feel it, it is OK for them to express it.  With both adults and children, we need to give them permission to feel their sadness.  We need to help them understand that they don’t need to fear it, and we need to let them know that we can handle their negative emotions.  If you or a love one is struggling, area therapists are available to help.  Please check out our list of resources for flood victims.