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Angels Across the USA Blog

27Jun

Grief Is Like Shopping at JC Penney’s

Grief is Like Shopping at JC Penney’s – Whoever created their pricing system at Penney’s must be an evil mathematician. If you shop there, they want you to believe that everything in the store is on sale. But, their sale price on most things is the same as their competitor’s regular prices. Once you see past that little marketing scam, you realize where the real bargains are found …  In their Red Zone of clearance items. 

On my best days, I find $50 shirts for $5.99. On a bad day, I have absolutely no idea what the shirt I just tried on costs because there are 4 different signs hanging above the rack, and two different prices on the item. Asking a clerk to explain how much one of these clearance items costs, reveals they are as confused as I am. 

I used to get frustrated about all of this, I really wanted to know how much things cost, and how the heck they got to that price. But, one day, I decided to let all that go and just let the mystery be. So, if I like an item, I commit to buying it. Then, I wander up to the register to play a little mystery game I like to call “is it a good deal, or is it a great deal”? The fun thing about this game, is that it has worked both in my favor and against my favor. Because these shirts are going to have a short life with me before I donate them, I don’t want to pay more than $10 apiece. 

Last week, the game was very good to me. I scored 5 new shirts and 2 pairs of Levi’s Dockers cargo shorts ($50 original price) ….out the door for a grand total of $67. Don’t ask me how or why they arrived at that amount. And if you think the signs are confusing, just try reading the Penney’s receipt. It is like a mathematical formula on steroids … so, I just pay the lady.

So, how is shopping at Penney’s like grief? In grief, we can’t always calculate the cost or the amount of energy it is going to take to get through any given day or season. We often have anxiety because we know a birthday, or an anniversary is fast approaching. We don’t need a calendar to tell us when holidays are near or when seasons are changing … our hearts know it and we feel it in our bones. As we contemplate these days, we often try to calculate what it will be like “this Year.” Kind of like me trying to figure out the price of one of those shirts we attempt to take into consideration how many years it has been, how well did I handle it last year and any other factors we think will trigger us.

In the end, the day comes, and it is often not at all what we expected. Sometimes it works in our favor and the day is easier than we expected. Other times it is harder than we imagined. Over the years, I have taught myself to allow those hard days to come and to pay whatever the price is when they arrive. It has freed me up from the anxiety associated with trying to predict how I will feel. I have learned you can not practice pain, predict hurt or anticipate sorrow.

So, the next time you start to stress about how difficult your next landmark day might be … just visualize me standing in front of a rack of clothes trying to calculate the price of a package of underwear discounted by 15% with 40% off the next to last lowest ticketed price. Then take a breath, roll with your grief … when the dreaded day comes, you will learn the actual cost, and you can pay the lady … sometimes you will get lucky, and the day won’t feel so costly, other times it may be worse than what you imagined … but either way, if we let go of worrying what the day will be like, we can get back all of the time and energy we use stressing about what we can’t calculate.    Blessings, Alan

© 2018 by Alan Pedersen

About the Author

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen is an award-winning speaker, songwriter and recording artist. His inspirational message and music about finding hope after loss resonate deeply with those facing grief and adversity in their lives

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