Life is full of events that can knock you down. Sometimes it’s an actual tumble or accident that lands you in the hospital. Sometimes it’s a death of someone you love dearly and can’t quite imagine life without. Maybe it’s the tragedy of being abused as a child.
Sometimes it’s a serious disappointment of such magnitude that you think you can’t quite recover. A few of these might include a son or daughter with a drug addiction, a spouse who left you for someone else, losing a job you enjoyed and desperately needed, finding out you will never be able to bear a child, being betrayed by a close friend, and on it goes.
Life is full of surprises and when these surprises are the kind you never want to happen, you have to dig deep inside yourself and discover how to go on. There are things you can do to make the journey not only bearable, but filled with hope for a brighter future.
Here are 7 suggestions
1. Allow yourself time to grieve
Losses are painful. They need to be acknowledged. In the Bible we read this wise counsel: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . . A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4). Give yourself time to mourn, whatever your loss may be.
2. Limit your tears
Give yourself that “time to weep” without letting it take over your life. A woman who had experienced her own heartaches said, “I don’t cry long. It makes my head ache and I don’t like headaches.” Some crying can be relieving, but too much for too long can intensify the suffering. Don’t deny yourself a good cry. Just be in control of it without letting it control you. It’s difficult to think clearly when crying for long periods of time.
3. Consider your options
If something has knocked you down, think “Get up!” This is illustrated in a video that shows the determination of a young college athlete. Though a track race isn’t a thing of magnitude to most of us, Heather Dornigan’s actions show us what can be done when adversity strikes. This 2 ½ minute clip is inspiring.
4. Surround yourself with people who will help lift you up
In a recent news article, Heather Eborn, a mother of four young children with another on the way, whose husband died suddenly, shared her story. Think of the overwhelming loss she would feel. “At the viewing, two young women — strangers — stood in front of her. You don’t know us, they said. But you will. We are young widows, too. And we will become great friends.” Eborn said she was in such emotional pain she didn’t know how she would have made it without these two women and the many other friends who helped her. The details in the article of what they and she did show how being with good friends can help you survive and eventually thrive.
5. Imagine a good ending to your difficult situation
Another young widow in the above mentioned article said “she knew that ‘way off in the distance’ she would be OK and made a decision to work toward that goal.” Picture yourself in a happier situation in the days to come. Know that it may take some time, but it will come. Regardless of the type of sorrow you are going through, there will be that “time to laugh;" that "time to dance.” Hold on to that vision. Let there be hope in your heart.
Too many people who go through a tragedy forget to eat, or just don’t want to. You must take care of your physical body or your mind and emotions cannot heal. We recently spoke to a woman who felt all was lost. She called us and was crying. “I don’t want to live. I hate my life,” she said. We asked if she had eaten. She confessed she hadn’t eaten much of anything for days. No wonder she was in such a weakened state. We made her promise she would eat. She was hundreds of miles away or we would have taken a meal to her. We reiterated her promise and she confirmed she would eat something nourishing as soon as she hung up. The next day she called again and was in much happier spirits. She had eaten. “I think I’m going to be OK,” she said. What a difference it makes to nourish your body. Take care of your physical body so you can have the strength to face your challenges and nourish the loved ones in your life.
7. Seek God’s help
Prayer is a great healer of sorrows. A woman who found she could never have children wept from the painful news. It was her dream to be a mother. She and her husband turned to the one true source they could count on. They prayed. They prayed for comfort and for guidance. Their prayers were eventually answered in the form of five adopted children. God had guided them to each one. He hears the prayers of his children. You are his child. He will hear you, too. Turn to him for help and feel his loving presence in your life. Another passage of scripture to remember is, “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
By following these suggestions you can go a long way towards making it through whatever tragedy or loss you are experiencing. Hold on. There is a bright future out there. Take the steps and claim it.
Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer and lyricist. Together they author books on relationships, including .99 e-book on amazon.com "Wake-Up Call: What Every Husband Needs to Know." Also see garyjoylundberg.com