Honoring the sadness

Cathy ZielskeProducts & Classes33 Comments

For those of us documenting daily life, the question can arise on how to cover tragedy on our pages and in our albums. I know this was something I looked at with a heavy heart during the Newtown tragedy. Again, for the Boston Marathon bombings. And now for Oklahoma.

If there's one thing I am connecting to lately, it's that life is completely unpredictable. There is joy. And there is sadness. It's all part of what we signed on for, whether we like it or not.

We can withdraw from it. We can outraged by it. We can quickly brush by it on our way back to normal. Or we can observe it—head on—and let it in, and let it change us. Let it change how we live and breathe.

I was driving by my neighborhood elementary school yesterday, saw the kids out on the playground and was overcome with grief. I've never been much good at blocking stuff out—stuff like bombings, and shootings, and destructive acts of nature—but only recently have I begun to really embrace sadness and let it in, and let it begin to change me.

Let it become a part of me.

Yes, that's therapy talking. I've paid a lot of money to learn about all the ways I've tried to block and control any pain of any kind in my life. 

I've paid some immense prices for trying to acquire a type of control that doesn't even exist.


Life will always remind us who is in charge. Some of us pray and some of us hope—but we are often reminded that the unexpected is part of, well, life.

As I continued past the school yesterday, I was thinking of the lyric from a song that I always recall during any time of sadness, The Night I Heard Caruso Sing by Everything But The Girl. 

…it's time to hold your loved ones, while the chains are loose, and the world runs wild.

I created a card for my Project Life album. I guess I wanted some way to remember this feeling of how miraculous this whole thing is—this life I live—while also honoring the sadness.


Download CZ_QuoteCard

File is in PDF, PNG and layered PSD. 

Thanks for reading today.



Cathy ZielskeHonoring the sadness

33 Comments on “Honoring the sadness”

  1. #1

    Cathy, who needs a therapist when we have you! Such beautiful insight and heartfelt display of emotion that is so easily connected to. It feels like you are holding us all within your Internet embrace. Thank you. Thoughts and prayers to all the victims and their families.

  2. #3

    You have a lovely way with words to make a heartfelt tribute like this. I always struggle when I’m upset to express how I feel. Thank you.

  3. #5
    Trophy Wife

    First, thank you!

    Thank you for sharing this poignant card…I’ve not heard of this group nor the song but will be checking it out this morning.

    Thank you for your honesty and transparency you post on your blog. I find it refreshing to read REAL LIFE…I also appreciate that you keep private private…not everything has to be publicly posted.

    Thank you for sharing your journey of discovering a better version of you! When I find myself rushing through life, it seems you write something that causes me to slow down and LIVE it.

    Thank you for sharing your artistic side!

    Enjoy a fabulous Wednesday!!!


  4. #6

    Thank you!
    I live about 100 north of Moore and watch everything live on local tv, and let me tell you, I’m in a complete fog. Everything thunder yesterday was a reminder, everything raindrop, its horrific and so, so sad.
    Thank you for pausing, recognizing, and knowing that while life goes on, its not the same.
    Sarah in OK

  5. #7

    Thank you. I live about 20 minutes away from Moore and have been overwhelmed with sadness along with my children. As I dropped them off to school yesterday my teen daughter commented on the guilt she feels that we are spared and going on with our day. As sad and heartbroken as we are we have felt love and hope. People like you who are pausing and grieving along with everyone and sharing something to provide healing and relief. Thank you.

  6. #8

    It seems like there has been much sadness and devastation lately. Here in Central Texas, we are still dealing with the aftermath of the West, TX fertilizer plant explosion as well. The loss of much of that town and so many first responders…it’s hard to put into words the grief. But I’m like you, I want to embrace the pain and learn from it. We really don’t have any other choice unless we just want to crawl in a hole and hurt (and sometimes that is ok too…for awhile!). So, I honor them by living my life. Thanks for the download. It will make a nice addition to my PL.

  7. #9

    I think it is a beautiful tribue. The loss people in Oklahoma suffered is felt so many. Thanks for sharing with us a way to honor those who lost there lives because I will never look at this beautiful little card without remembering how precious life is.

  8. #11

    Beautiful post Cathy. I feel the same as you. I have been thinking about how to acknowledge what has happened this week – I also had a friend tell us about her husband’s cancer diagnosis – so this card is the perfect way to address my feelings in my PL.

  9. #12

    Beautifully written, Cathy. Sadness and tragedy is unavoidable in life for sure. And, like you said,it is how we deal with it that makes the difference. Life IS so precious and you just never know. This card is a wonderful way to remember the sadness of this week. It will be in my project life page.

  10. #13

    Thank you, Cathy for sharing your feelings … Trophy Wife expressed it perfectly! So much tragedy ~
    Thank you for the beautiful card.

  11. #14

    Thank you so much for this post that is heartfelt and well written. You are such a positive, caring person, this is why I enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for the card as well.

  12. #15

    Thanks Cathy … such a lovely reminder to embrace all that life throws at us. I first documented tragedy after 9/11 when I did a page about how we heard the news that day and the conversation I had with my then 4 year old about what he understood about the attacks. While a sad event, the memory of that first serious, powerful conversation I had with my young son is something I am glad I documented.
    I LOVE the card … will definitely use very soon. thank you!!

  13. #17

    “I’ve paid some immense prices for a type of control that doesn’t exist”… Wow, the whole blog post is poignant but that part hits hard… I’m going to stew in that for a while…

  14. #18

    Cathy – that says it all so perfectly! I also couldn’t get over the fact that the tornado hit at the end of the school day, and was also overcome when dropping my daughter at school today. Unlike you, I’m only at the beginning of my ‘therapy journey’ (why did I wait so long?) but knowing there are others like you out there who’ve ‘made it’ helps me keep going…..

  15. #19

    This is a perfect sentiment, Cathy. Thank you. I have definitely held my kindergartener a bit closer this year.

    You have such an amazing, eclectic collection of music. I love it.

  16. #22

    thank you so much for this amazing post, cathy.
    in times of facebook (and this social media frenzy) sometimes we forget, as memory keepers, that life is not made just of happy moments.

  17. #24
    Karen Freeman

    I love reading your thoughts. Thank you for the beautiful words and the song which I had not had the pleasure of hearing before.

  18. #25

    I have so much emotion stirring up inside I don’t know what to say. I’m thankful you put your words and heart out there to be read. I need that. Reading your blog makes me feel just a little less alone (or a little bit more understood?) when the world seems to be falling apart at the seams.

  19. #26

    Thanks for the post and the journal cards, Cathy. The events around us do shape and change us and need to be recorded as part of our story. Thanks for encouraging us to do this.

  20. #27

    Thank you Cathy.

    A lovely card, and a very helpful post. We’ve just had our own micro-tragedy (based on 911 being massive and general size) with a soldier being killed on the streets of London in a machete attack. We’re all reeling…. Will I include it in project life? Yes, for sure. It’s part of our news, part of our life. I can’t include fun stuff like the Jubilee and not the sad stuff too. The bad/sad/mad things give our books balance and honesty.

  21. #28

    Thank you for your heartfelt post, Cathy, and for the quote card, which I will definitely use. As the Mom of an elementary school child, when such things happen in that setting I am particularly grief-stricken. (Not to say that I’m not saddened by the losses of others who are not children, of course!) I was reading the news stories the evening of the day of the Moore tornado and just had to go lay down next to my girl and hug her. I think these tragedies remind us all not to take the ordinary for granted. I end every conversation with my parents or my sisters with an “I love you.” Every single time. If we forget, we call back to say it.

  22. #30

    I’m right there with you. Be sad, then be glad. Our lives can change in the blink of an eye. Thanks for this great PL card, I’m going to use it in my album.

  23. #31

    I appreciate your authenticity. I once tried to control live also. Luckily both of us have made progress. This post and others are “true to the bone”. Thank you.

  24. #32
    Bec Kilgore

    What happened in my city this past weekend pales in comparison with the devastation of the OKC/Moore tornado but it none the less reminds me that things can change in a matter of moments.

    San Antonio is known for its years of drought, drought and more drought followed at times by a major flood. Thankfully over the years we have seens some major improvements to flash flood control but we still lost 3 people to flood related death in our area. They were 17, 30 and 81.

    Thank you for the card. I am also using it for Memorial Day and for documenting the anniversary of my father’s death coming up next week. Another instance of life changing in a blink of an eye.

    Still trying to catch up on your BPC :/.

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