Regardless of whether you lose someone you love to death, to another country, by choice, as part of a break up (or maybe even while still in the relationship) or to a disease, the process of grief, anger, hurt, sorrow, frustration and pain is somewhat the same and never easy. It takes time no matter how we twist and turn reality, before we finally reach a stage of acceptance. It can take weeks, months – even years. And some losses we never recover completely.
It can seem strange how life goes on even when you feel like it has stopped; You look out the window and see how people still go to work, pick up their children, go jogging, talk on the phone, laugh and smile. The seasons change, the roses bloom, the grass grows and yet here you are feeling like everything should stop functioning for a while. The void is staring at you and there’s nothing you can’t do to change what has happened. Turning back time is not an option.
Maybe you head down the more destructive route* and start blaming yourself; If only you had been a better partner. If only you had made that call. If only you had been home more. If only you had seen her more. If only you had lost weight. If only you had a better body. If only you had stayed in the country instead of pursuing your dreams. But the fact remains the same; You have lost someone close to you, and as the old saying tends to remind us ‘time will heal your wounds’ (Even though all wounds are not always healed completely.. Sometimes time will simply teach you how to live with them).
*A little note on heading down the destructive route: Please stop! You are exactly as you should be and you did exactly as you should have done. No matter how painful, whatever happened was meant to happen this way. Nothing you could have said or done would have changed it.
So what can you do to get yourself through it?
First of all, when dealing with sorrow (regardless of the circumstances) try to remind yourself that things could always be worse (read this if you don’t believe me).
When I deal with difficultues I think of three specific people; I think of my grandfather, I think of Lis (read about her here) and last, but not least, I think of a very good friend of mine who gave me excellent advice in my early twenties that has stayed with me ever since.
My grandfather asked me on the day of my confirmation (literally right after returning from church) whether I believed in God. Gotta love his timing! In truth, I wasn’t quite sure, and I think he knew this, so he continued ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe in – as long as you believe in something. Life will be easier on you if you manage to do so‘.
My grandfather was a fantastic man – I loved him dearly. He was also a very religious man, so the surprise of these words have stayed with me ever since. I honestly never thought he would be the one to encourage me to believe in whatever I wanted to believe in. I would have thought that to him there was only one right way of believing. I guess I was wrong.
Perhaps as a direct result of our conversation, I, today, believe in a lot of different things and so I have a hard time putting a specific label on my beliefs. I’ve chosen my favourite parts of a few different religions and mixed them up, added a bit of spirituality (this is where Lis comes in) and know deep down in my gut that my grandparents, who are unfortunately not physically with me any longer, are very much with me every day in spirit – watching over me and making sure that everything happens the way it is supposed to. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I trust that life wants only what is best for me. In other words, I believe that there are no rules when it comes to believing, but I do believe that believing in something bigger than yourself is important – so I do.
If you don’t believe, everything becomes your own responsibility (even the worst things in life), which can severely weigh you down. Although we should always own up to our responsibilities, some things are not meant to land on our shoulders alone. So let it go. If you’re not into religion and don’t wish to be that’s absolutely fine. Just trust that there’s a higher meaning with what happened and that you are being taken care of no matter how painful the process you are going through.
And while you do find yourself going through the pain, anger, sorrow and frustration, take this piece of advice that my good friend gave me several years ago; Make sure you have one great thing to look forward to every single day. It’s a rather simple task, but it’s got a very important purpose; It’s to keep you active and to make certain that you have something good to think about especially right before you go to bed. Going to bed on a positive note heightens your likeliness of waking up with a positive mindset.
It doesn’t matter what this great thing is – as long as it feels good to you. It could be going for a walk in the park. It could be reading a good book. Having coffee with a friend. Going to the zoo. Going for a run. Attending a dance class. Having a drink with someone you haven’t seen for a long time. Visiting a relative. Signing up for an online dating site. Heck – going on a date. Starting up your kitchen garden. Having your hair cut, your nails done – you name it. The important part is that it’s a positive thing to you and that it’s in your calendar (I’m serious – write it down in your calendar). Never go to bed with no plans for the next day. Your plans don’t need to be huge – they just need to be there. At least one great thing a day.
Last, but not least; Focus on the positive – always. Be grateful for what you had and cherish the memories. Time will take care of the rest one way or the other and the sun will rise again, I promise.