A nationwide heartbreak

To say that last week was stressful is an understatement.

In a way, it almost felt like last week didn’t exist, with all the stress and devastation I saw on TV and online. But to bury it all and pretend that it didn’t happen feels like some kind of injustice — the kind that I promised wouldn’t happen to me because grace is not about forgetting, but knowing you can start anew.

In the midst of keeping myself up to date, seeing photos, checking which news articles to believe and fixing our own relief efforts in our book club, I came to this conclusion to what this feeling was, the one that bugged me and drove me to tears every now and then when I read news, see photos and hear stories.


This thing that’s stirring our hearts? This isn’t just a simple sadness over what happened to our country. It’s not just sympathy.

It’s heartbreak.

I don’t think anyone’s a stranger to heartbreak. We’ve all had our hearts broken at some point — by a friend, a family member or someone you love. We’ve all had that, and while every heartbreak is different, it doesn’t make it less painful.

What we had last week, and what we’re still having now, is a nationwide heartbreak.

I wrote this last week, during one of those nights when I was feeling a little too much and thinking a little too much (but in a good way):

We are like lovers reeling from a fresh heartbreak, reacting in different ways we know how: lash out, rant, mope, judge. We wonder how people can be so happy and seem so apathetic by posting anything unrelated to the typhoon, while a third of our country suffers. We talk about sensitivity and inefficiency, we curse the people who continue to steal and lie in this tragedy, and make it hard for the people who need the relief to get what they need.

But some of us move, organize things, reach out, help. We move because not moving makes us feel the heartbreak even more, and moving makes it easier for us to breathe, somehow.

We have our own ways to cope because a heartbreak comes unexpectedly, no matter how ready we are, no matter how strong we think we are. Our hearts break, and we do what we can do to heal.

We move, and we wait for healing to come.

And it will come. We just have to wait a little bit.

If healing was fast and easy, then how would we learn the things we ought to learn in the face of heartbreak? If healing comes in a flash, how would we learn compassion, kindness, generosity, strength? Would we be able to appreciate the tireless efforts everyone is doing to heal from the heartbreak? If things become okay in a snap, would we even appreciate what kind of people we become after this heartbreak?

It may seem so far away, but I believe we’re slowly, slowly starting to recover. It’s going to take a while. A long while, probably. And this road won’t be smooth — definitely bumpy, and will probably mean more work for us. Possibly with tinier heartbreaks; small waves of grief that will make us cry again, and punch us in the gut.

But it will not steal our hope.

It will not silence our love.

The thing about heartbreak, I learned, is not really about waiting for things to stop hurting before you do something. A broken heart can and will heal with time, but for time to actually do its job, you need to move. Movement will heal you, free you. In movement, you will learn, and in movement you will be wiser. In movement, you will find people who will move with you.

And you will heal.

swirlOur nation’s heart is broken. But if there’s another thing I learned about heart break (and I quote ((From Corpse in the Mirror by A.S. Santos)) ): Even when hearts are broken, they still keep beating.

Our hearts are broken, but it’s beating. Loud and strong.

P.S. – Not too late to make a difference! Keep on helping, keep on praying!

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