Welcome! If you're grieving or depressed, pull up a comfy chair, I'll get you a cup of cold water or a mug of hot tea, and you can talk as much or as little as you want. I won't even ask you how you're doing if you don't want me to.

Grief and depression suck. I don't have The Answers, but I have small tools for hope and healing that have helped me. I'm here to offer them to you, so take what you can use and leave the rest, no guilt or pressure.

By "tool," I pretty much just mean "anything that is helpful," so basically it's anything from kitchen tools to grief theory to the amazing people in my life. (Though obviously, my friends and family are so much more than "tools!" And hard to transfer to anyone else.) Grief and depression affect everything, spiritual and mental health affect everything, so by my definition, practically anything can be a tool.

When I talk about "health," know that I don't believe there's any secret or discipline you can practice to earn health -- I'm not victim blaming, I don't think we all have full control of anything, including our own bodies, and if you're depressed right now, know I'm not saying it's all your fault. It is not. It's not your fault. I've gone through some chronic illness of my own, and I know that sometimes, things just suck. So I'm not offering a magic pill or anything that can fix everything. Just little things that can help in little bits, and hopefully build up over time.

If you're not feeling "resilient" right now, it's not your fault. You may already have all the helpful tools in the world, but your "threshold of need" has eclipsed your tools, and you need a little more help in getting your head above water -- not because you don't know how to swim just fine, thank you very much, but because someone attached rocks to you and threw you in the deep end. I'm so sorry! I don't know if I can cut you free, or empty the pool, but I'll try to do what I can. Give you another person to grab onto.

One thing I particularly noticed after my parents passed away, though -- the most helpful things while grieving either help you engage in your grief, mourn; or they refill your tank, things of wonder and delight. Of course, in the immediate aftermath of a loss, when the grief and shock are freshest, there may be very few things that feel even a little bit good, let alone delightful. Previous hobbies and interests may seem worse than anything, because of the contrast between how you used to feel while doing them compared to how you now feel.

It isn't forever.

One thing that is NOT included in these two categories, mourning and delight, is numbing. However, it can be helpful as needed for survival. Eventually, though, you have to engage in grieving again, and if you've found anything that's delightful, that's pretty much always better than numbing.

I don't have all the answers or any instant fixes, much as I wish I did. But I hope, if these little things are helpful to me, maybe they could be helpful to you, too. No pressure! What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. But I hope that you'll be able to take one or two truly lifegiving ideas from this.

I write as a Christian; if you're not, it won't matter at all for some of the things I share, but will be central to others. Use what you can and leave the rest, no guilt. I'm here to give you digital cups of cold water in Jesus' name, regardless of who you are. I'm not here to argue with you about whether or not what I gave you was actually cool and refreshing. If it wasn't, if it was the last thing you needed, I'm so sorry! I will try to do better.

Who am I to give you spiritual or mental health advice?

No one. A little child in God's kingdom, I hope.

I've gone through postpartum depression three times, including once after a miscarriage, and I've lost both of my parents; my dad very suddenly, then my mom two months later, very not-suddenly, after about ten years with Alzheimer's. I don't know what your story is, you've quite possibly been through more than I have, but I hope that I'll still be able to help you a little with some of what I've learned and picked up along the way.

I also post what's saving my life over on Instagram, somewhere between daily and weekly. You can hop on over there now, or sign up here for a summary of sorts every week (to month) in your inbox.

Please, contact me with any questions, comments, requests, anything at all. These may be my tools and what's saving my life, but you're the reason I write about it. I'm a peer, not a professional, so I'm pretty much making this all up as I go. You're as much the expert as I am, and I'd love to hear from you.

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Marcy Ratcliff
Writer and SAHM with three littles, ages 9, 6, and 4. I write about small tools for hope and healing.