And we are left wondering: is there no escaping the losses that keep coming and coming sending us spiraling into despair?
Losses create pain. And when we are in pain we will do almost anything to get out of it. We medicate ourselves with pills, drugs, alcohol, violence, contrived merriment or avoid dealing with it by placing fault on somebody or something else – anything so we don’t have to feel our pain.
We play events over and over again, hoping we can reverse the reality. We continue to blame ourselves or somebody else for what we are experiencing.
Yet nurturing resentments, guilt, anger, revenge do not take away the pain. They only keep us locked in it.
Where do we begin and what do we do to heal from our losses, both in the past and in the present?
Step One: Start where you are
Stop medicating, stop avoiding, stop running away from it, stop denying, stop stuffing it, and stop isolating yourself.
Step Two: Acknowledge the reality
Shock and denial help us absorb losses and tragedies until we can process them more adequately. But at some point in order to heal it is necessary to address events, tragedies and our feelings.
Step Three: Acceptance
Accept what has happened Accept that your loved one is gone. Recognize the major problems you are facing. Accept that the marriage may be over and the relationships you hold dear are battered, bruised and broken. Accept that you may have made a mistake or someone else made a mistake.
Accept that you can’t change the past, fix everything or prevent bad things from happening. Accept the fact that you may not find answers or meaning to tragedies that assault our sense of reason and right and wrong.
Accept that we are all imperfect and vulnerable, in need of healing, forgiveness and grace. In acceptance we can allow ourselves to feel and heal. Acceptance says I will start where I am.
Acceptance doesn’t mean we forget. It means that we want to heal and move forward.
Acceptance is an on-going process that gradually takes us out of denial, blame, anger, bargaining, blame and resentment as we let go of the past and the pain.
Step four: Grab hold of hope, grace, and love
As we reach out to others and share our stories, pain gradually becomes balanced with understanding, forgiveness, and gratitude. As we go through our pain we can celebrate the lives of those we have lost and put in place happy memories that create joy instead of pain. Reach out to God and accept the healing power of love and grace that He extends to us every day.
Step five: Act on that hope
Acting on hope is believing that there is life after tragedy and death. It is letting go of what was in order to live today and tomorrow.
Hanging onto our pain does not reverse events. We don’t forget. As we are willing to let go of our pain, we can take our memories with us and find the good in them. We can remember all the happy times and rejoice in them.
Reach out to others and give them a hand as they struggle with their grief and losses. You do not have to find an explaination for things that happen or even understand why. We just need to honor our journey and the journey of others.
I will be sending out a special newsletter on healing from pain in the next few days. If you haven’t already signed up to receive my monthly newsletters, please do so on the website.