We’ve had a lot of practice over the last few months to go through the grief process with our plans. With things breaking, plans changing, life happening, we had to figure it out as we went. I am no stranger to the grief process, as most of you know. In fact, bereavement was one of my favorite subjects that I studied in college because of my personal experiences with death and grief. When you think of the 5 stages of grief, you typically think of it after someone has died, but it can be used in a number of instances throughout your life. This absolutely includes plans and future expectations.
A lot of people I met in college, even my mom and brother, went into college with one plan for their major and ended up changing it half way through. Now, is that such a bad thing? Absolutely not. College is meant to help us figure out what we love, what we want to do, what drives us. Me? I went in as a pre-nursing major, and then I took Biology 101 and decided that I was not going to make it with all of those sciences. I felt confused, concerned, a little embarrassed, and didn’t know what to do. However, I figured it out. The stages of grief can fit is so many parts of our lives, including something like changing your major! If you’re a planner, sometimes it can be rough when you’ve anticipated and waited for something for a while and then it gets changed all of the sudden. That, my friends, is what happened with Steve and me.
Most of you know our story – how we met summer of 2020, became friends, then started dating, then moved in together, and started this blog as we sailed North for the summer. Well, nearly the whole time we were together we had been planning to sail South this winter. I went into my nanny job knowing that I would need to stop working in Norfolk by July so that we could sail to Urbanna. We knew that we had to be on the hard in October so the boat would be prepped and ready by December. We had it all laid out, yet here we are with nothing to show for it. Now, I don’t mean for that to sound extremely negative, but part of getting over the frustration is to acknowledge that it really does suck, but there’s not much we could’ve done.
So, whether you’re grieving someone, plans, expectations, really anything, maybe these steps will create some clarity.
We all do this. When something happens unexpectedly (or even expectedly) we don’t want to believe it. We want things to go back to how they were and let life continue on its tracks. Well, that’s not really how it works.
When the forestay broke, and now when the hole happened, we spent the whole night hoping it wasn’t as bad as we thought it was. We thought maybe, just maybe, when they pulled the boat out of the water it would be a clean fix and then off to the Keys we’d go. It didn’t happen that way, and I think we both knew it wouldn’t, but the denial inside of us rang true.
Then we got mad. Well, I did. Steve was calm and supportive and everything I needed when it hurt so bad to hear that our boat, our home, had the possibility of being totaled. I would be fine and then I’d cry. I’d be positive about the outcome and then I’d be pissed that it even happened in the first place, especially right after we had done SO MUCH to get the boat ready to leave. It’s completely normal to do this when something happens. You wonder, “why me”, and there’s never a good answer. The “it happened for a reason” responses began to not help but make it worse. At this point, we really just didn’t know where things were going.
Bargaining is typically when you say “if you make it all right and everything get better, I’ll do _____.” This stage is typically between the person grieving and a higher power.
I think we skipped this one and went straight to the next.
And then the sadness hit. We didn’t know what the next week or month held. We talked a lot about where we would be if the boat wasn’t broken, or what we’d be doing. I cried. We felt left out of this plan that we had spent so much of our time and relationship planning. We felt the weight of each day that we didn’t know where we’d be on our shoulders. We had no plans, because we couldn’t make any until we knew if the boat was totaled or not.
When we got the voicemail about the boat being paid out, we just knew it was totaled because the price they were paying was more than Steve paid for the boat originally. In that moment, we did nothing but process and hug and again, I cried. We were at my parents and mom walked by and knew immediately what was going on. She told dad. They hugged us and gave their best “I’m sorry”. Then we talked with the insurance company and figured out it wasn’t totaled, but we still knew nothing from the yard, and we still don’t.
Now that we know where the boat will be for the next few months, and the plans to move it back to Norfolk in March, we could finally make new plans that would get us out of this funk.
One night, Steve and I talked for a while about needed to make a plan, even though we don’t know what is happening with the boat in March, just so that we would have something to look forward to and be excited about. Something to make us excited to travel again. And that next day we booked our Airbnb in Mexico.
At this point, we are accepting the things we cannot change. We know that, whether the boat is fixable or not, we will figure it out. After all, we’ve been through a lot the last few months and we’ve made it out just fine. We know that we have a lot of decisions ahead of us, but we’ve also learned that we can figure them out together, and that’s what makes it all worth it.
Honestly, if we have to give up the boat, whether that’s fixing it up and selling it or parting it out, I will probably have to go through the stages again. After all, losing your home is not something to just brush off, and I know that. It’s true that it’s taken a toll on us, this whole experience, but I am just happy to be here and safe and that I get to do it all with Steve and our sweet pup. We are spending more time with family and friends than we had planned to this winter and holiday season and that is definitely in the “good things that’s happened” box of our lives recently.
This week we finally winterized the boat and got a lot of stuff that we may need for it on our trip to Mexico. We took the sails down, which is always a bit sad because it’s proof that we won’t be on the water for a while. We got quite a bit done, and even got to see a lighted boat parade in Hampton with a friend. We’ve watched Christmas movies and even did a whole puzzle in one movie! Talk about productivity! Anyway, I hope this week brings so much love and joy to all of you.