LIFE, though amazingly beautiful, has its traumas. For the past several months I have been dealing with a massive trauma of my own and I am trying to find my footing amidst all the chaos and sadness. I, admittedly, have little to no idea how to handle this life change and I’m sure some of you are, have been or will be in the same boat with a pivotal and earth-shattering situation of your own someday.
It’s an inevitability of life that along with joy and love comes pain and sadness.
THEY CANNOT EXIST without each other. So what are we to do when everything familiar and precious comes crashing down around us? How do we manage? When grief and heartbreak become the dominant forces in our daily life, how do we care for and give ourselves love? Where do we begin to heal?
Take Time to Mourn.
WHETHER it’s the loss of a loved one, your job, your marriage, your pet or your home you have to take time to mourn. Yes there will be people who will give you the old “pull yourself up and dust yourself off” advice and to them I suggest you say “I will…later.” Obviously if you suffer the death of a loved one you will grieve, but did you know that it’s normal and healthy to grieve other losses?
A BREAKUP is just like a death. A person you love that played a major role in your life is gone…the future you were to share is lost. Sounds like grounds for grieving to me.
TAKE YOUR TIME. Move at your own pace. Feel what you need to feel in the way that you need to feel it. Remember that the mourning process is different for each and every one of us. Which leads me to my next point…
Do What You Need to Do
WITHIN REASON, of course. Do what you need to do to feel better and get some of those feelings out. Scream into a pillow (don’t laugh…it totally works). Cry. Put glass bottles in an old pillowcase and smash them with a hammer (wear protective eyewear, kids). Run. Sleep. Cry some more. Drink butter beer and have a Harry Potter marathon. Buy some new shoes. Invite your friends to a sleep over. Bawl your eyes out. Go to therapy. Take up boxing. Paint. Start an art journal. Cry some more. Write. Adopt a cat to love and adore.
DO WHAT YOU NEED to do to work through it, to start to feel better and to get all the yuck out. The only rule is that it must be constructive and not destructive.
GOING ON A three day bender and getting so drunk that you’ve spent your rent money on rounds for all your new found bar buddies and wake up next to some guy that you’ve never laid eyes on before named Smokey who, upon further investigation, you discover to be a recent parolee with 9 illegitimate kids (all of whom belong to different women), a psycho ex-girlfriend who is pounding on your door, screaming something about cutting you and, Smokey, that charmer, may or may not have relieved himself in your bed while in his drunken stupor. Obviously learning tae kwon do would be a much better way to deal with your feelings…unless Smokey sounds like your type of guy, in which case he’s all yours.
Take Baby Steps
YOU OBVIOUSLY aren’t going to feel better overnight, and that’s ok. Just take baby steps…one day at a time. Try not to look to far into the future or turn your mind into a giant “what if” machine (my personal specialties). All that will do is make life that much harder.
Focus on the present moment and what you can do right now.
IF ALL YOU CAN DO is get out of bed, that’s fine. That’s a baby step. Taking a shower (let’s admit it…for some of us hygiene takes a flying leap out the window while grieving, as do many aspects of self-care and that’s okay) is a baby step. Just take it moment by moment and day by day. Leave tomorrow’s troubles for tomorrow. They are of no help today.
Reach Out for Help
DO NOT ISOLATE yourself. Let me repeat that in case I was unclear. DO NOT ISOLATE YOURSELF.
YES YOU WILL NEED to spend time alone to process your feelings, to adapt, but to completely isolate yourself is a bad idea. The last thing you want to do is increase the sense of loneliness you may feel while you grieve. A downward spiral into severe depression is not what you want.
IF YOU NEED TO TALK to get things out, call a friend. If you don’t want to divulge your feelings to a friend or loved one, then contact a therapist. And if talking just really isn’t your thing you can try art therapy. Just seek help, sounding boards, shoulders to cry on when you need them.
Even if you think no one cares, you’re wrong.
I HAVE FOUND support and love in some very unexpected places just by reaching out. Try it. Some people may want to help, but just aren’t emotionally capable. Don’t take it personally. There are others who ARE emotionally capable and are more than willing to give you the support you need. Keep reaching out.
Don’t Forget to Laugh
I KNOW WHAT you’re thinking:
“But I’m devastated. I’m mourning. I hurt so much inside. Laughing would be wrong. It would be betraying my *insert your loss here.*”
FEELING GOOD is not a betrayal. Not allowing yourself to feel good is…it’s a betrayal of yourself and your healing. Enjoying yourself, laughing does not mean you have forgotten your loss. It doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the pain you’re going through. It means you’re blowing off steam. It means you’re a human being.
Laughter is good. Laughter is healing.
HUMOR CAN HELP US through some of our darkest hours. When I had cancer you would have thought I was a standup comic. I was upbeat, cracking jokes and making myself and my family laugh. It made us all feel better. Don’t get me wrong…I was scared sh*tless. That giant what-if machine otherwise known as my brain was working a mile a minute, but without humor, without laughter, I would have been an absolute mess. Give yourself permission to experience joy, love and laughter. They, along with time, will heal you.
Will the pain ever go away?
YES AND NO. There are some events that still make my heart ache when I think about them. Some pain we carry with us for life. They are our battle scars. They show we are not afraid to love, to care, to try and achieve, to follow our dreams.
JUST REMEMBER you will, eventually, come out the other side of that dark tunnel. There will be light again, and though you may carry a piece of that darkness inside you forever, even though that sadness may always dwell in a piece of your heart, you can still love; you can still live a life of joy. You can still be happy.
GIVE YOURSELF time, patience and love. You are worth it.
Kisses & Chaos,
Alli Woods Frederick