Nobody escapes this life without suffering, and now it is your turn. Tomorrow it might be someone else’s. But the universe doesn’t keep score, so you shouldn’t either. Acknowledging that you can’t control everything is part of your liberation process. It isn’t personal. It just is.
When life doesn’t go as planned, we must hold on to the knowledge and hope that we still have choices, and that we are strong enough to make them.
Invest in Your Health
The temptation is out there to drown your sorrows in unhealthy habits that temporarily make you feel good. A quick fix always sounds great, but you’re in this for the long haul. There are no quick fixes to help you rebuild the rest of your life.
Sleep may feel impossible. Or maybe you’re sleeping too much. Exercise may not be a priority. You might eat horribly.
Choosing healthier habits—working out, getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying away from substance abuse—will promote good health. If your body isn’t well, it will permeate all aspects of your life in a negative and destructive way.
Strive for balance, reflect regularly, and readjust when it seems you are going astray. Staying healthy will help make the mental agony of loss a little easier to overcome.
It is vital to maintain connections with the people who love you. Even when you don’t feel like seeing anyone, it’s important not to isolate yourself. Your friends and family will form a chain of love around you in the early days of loss and help you get through the rough patches.
Sometimes they won’t know what to say. Actually, most of the time they won’t know what to say. Forgive them. Know that they have good intentions.
Everyone is bumbling their way through this experience. Most people want to help, they just might not know where to start. Don’t build walls around yourself. Let them in. You won’t regret it.
This doesn’t mean you become a doormat. It is important for your mental health to establish boundaries with people, particularly with family who can have a tendency to become too comfortable with us and inadvertently cause us pain. You must enforce these boundaries, even when it feels uncomfortable.
Express your feelings and don’t apologize for them. Most people in your life will not understand firsthand what you are going through. They won’t even know when they have crossed the line. They may even blame you for getting upset.
People are not perfect, so don’t hold on to their mistakes and don’t hold it against them. It will only drive you crazy. Forgive soon and often. Also, you will learn who your closest allies are, who you can trust with your innermost feelings, and who you can lean on. These people will play a tremendous part in your healing process.
Figure Out What You Love
Our passion is what keeps us afloat day in and day out. Doing what you love will help your sanity during the most tumultuous times. It is imperative that you remember or discover what makes you happy.
You must determine your own personal interests. Make a list. Go out and do them. Do not let the loss define you. You are so much more than that. You get to define yourself. You make those choices.
Make Time for Yourself
Choose to make time for yourself. Even a little bit of time will help.
Don’t stay home and allow yourself drown in sorrow. One of the worst things to do in the midst of surviving loss is to have time to twiddle your thumbs and wallow in self-pity. There will be a time and a place for the wallowing, but you don’t want it to consume your life. You don’t want to get stuck there.
Acknowledge the feeling, make space for it, feel it, and then move on.
Keeping your mind occupied is healthy and important.
Forgive Yourself Soon and Often
You’re going to have good days and bad days. Allow yourself time to cope with the bad days. Recognize the negative feelings and understand that they are only visitors in your mind. Temporary visitors. They will go away.
When the bad thoughts visit, take a bubble bath. Splurge on nice sheets and comfy slippers or whatever little comforts you want to indulge in. Read something fun instead of tackling work. Give yourself permission to relax.
Ride out the bad wave and wake up the next morning with a fresh start.
Forgive yourself. This is the most important advice I can give you. On some days you may feel your loss morph into a three-headed monster in your head. You’ll hate yourself. You’ll hate the universe. You’ll hate the person you lost and you’ll start feeling hate backing you into a corner. That’s when you have to push it back. Acknowledge it in the room, compartmentalize, and then choose to not let it consume you. It will be a struggle.
At the end of the day, everyone has to go through their experience of surviving loss in their own way. Life doesn’t always go as planned, but that doesn’t mean your life is over. You get to choose what is next. That is your power.