None of us bypass the footprints that a traumatic loss or life change leaves on the human psyche. I will be able to see you mourning, but your depth of grief will be invisible to me. No one can judge you by the measure of tears that you shed or the bouts of anger that you will experience. Only you will carry your grief and will get to know the depths of your loss.
Take note of the 7 Beliefs that need to Heal after a Traumatic loss or Life Change:
The Belief that:
1. There are 5 steps of Grief.
That does not mean that those 5 steps are to be your Blueprint. We all perceive loss or change differently according to our personal beliefs and our childhood emotional experiences. The 5 stages of grief were initially compiled to assist terminally ill patients and their loved ones, on coping with sickness and dying. These 5 stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, with the possibility of a sixth stage being “meaning”. You will heal, eventually. Try not put a timeline to it, or to put any pressure on yourself. Grief is not linear and can’t be dealt with as such. Give yourself the space and the time to feel what you feel, without judgment or impatience. Some days are going to be better than others, and that is okay.
2. You are Alone and No one cares.
Here I do not know how to say this with the amount of compassion that I feel for you. I know that you feel alone in your trauma, and, you are. No one can even imagine your exact amount of pain at this moment. The truth is, we do not know how to help you, how to console you, how to make this slightly easier for you. We can hold you, listen to you, but we can’t ease your hurting. Because people do not know your extent of pain, they either use hollow cliché’s or avoid you at all costs. It is not because you are not important to them, they simply cannot relate to your loss, they feel helpless or you are triggering their experiences of loss. Reach out for help when things become too difficult for you to carry. You will always find someone in your corner, ready to comfort you. When you feel alone, try not to run away from your emotion. Learn to sit with it, acknowledge it, as it is your present truth. Things have happened that changed your life irreversibly. It will take some time to fully comprehend the extent of that change. It does not have to be immediate. Know that every emotion that you feel is valid. The feeling of being alone, vulnerable and maybe empty or without hope. Look around you to see who is waiting for your call to help. They will be the angels who carry you through your darkest times.
3. You thought that life was going to continue indefinitely and nothing was going to change.
Your whole world changed within a few minutes, hours or days, and nothing prepared you for that. Do you think that you would have been able to train for a trauma like this? No matter what you do, or how much you try to be ready, trauma always catches you unprepared. You believed that your status was going to continue. You were caught off-guard. Nobody likes feeling that way! Maybe we all are so preoccupied with our lives, that we do not see the fragility of life. We naively carry-on day to day, thinking that everything is permanent. This is a rude awakening and the truth is that nothing will continue as it had in the past. You do not have to worry about this now. Things will work out for you, even though you do not see a way out. Take one day at a time and deal with the immediate present.
4. You do not have the strength to carry on.
How much physical pain can one person carry before the body resigns? How much emotional pain can one person carry and still continue with daily life? How have you dealt with loss in the past? Remember the puppy that got lost and you thought you were never going to survive? Remember the job that you wanted and were overlooked? Your parents that you lost in the car accident? I know that we sometimes, or most of the time, feel that we cannot deal with one more loss, or one more trauma, but this is life. We were not promised a rose garden life or plain sailing all the way. Life happens, and not all of it elicits joy and happiness. Despite how you are feeling, you have an innate strength to overcome whatever life throws your way. You can stand up, brush yourself off, pull your shoulders back and look life in the eye, while saying: “Bring it on!” Every experience you go through, teaches you something. Even if it is only that you do not want to experience that again! The human species are built to adapt, change, morph, grow, transform and to adjust. The question to ask is, how susceptible are you on this journey to this aspect of your life? If you can breathe, you can stand up and try again, start again, pull through again. You do not have to do that immediately, just know that when the time comes, you will be able to stand tall and embrace the next step that you need to take.
5. Other people’s lives are carrying on, and you cannot move forward!
Can you blame someone for what happened? Can you undo your situation? I get it! It feels much better to blame someone, rather than sit in the intense ocean of emotion and loneliness. Somehow that just doesn’t cut it! You are right, other people are moving on, while you are hanging motionless in this space of mourning and grief. You being angry about the unfairness of it all, does not reverse anything. Expecting others to be as affected by your loss as you are, is another pipedream that will leave you feeling resentment for those around you. This is your load to carry, and while others want to help, it is not their journey. Taking responsibility for your grief, your mourning, your healing, is one huge leap towards acceptance of where you are. Your first steps towards healing have begun.
6. Trusting yourself.
So, life has thrown you a curveball, once again. This means that maybe you will have to do things that you never thought you would have to do. It might be that you have to find a job, have to learn how to walk again, have to start another company from scratch or the fact that you have to keep on living despite what you have been through. Having to take the first steps, doing something out of your normal comfort zone, takes grit. Even though you feel ill-equipped, it will be the most gratifying feeling when you take those first paces of change, and see that you can do it. Your journey starts with the first stride you take. Your trust in yourself will increase and another world will open before you. Before long, you will be running with the wolves, finding out new aspects of yourself and leaping to find new opportunities for growth.
7. Establishing the new you.
Your circumstances have changed, and that changes you. The person who you were, has irrefutably been altered. You are going to go through challenging scenarios, you are going to have sleepless nights, you might even fall flat on your face trying out new skills, but, in that, you will start discovering what makes you feel alive and what encounters let you thrive. You might start unexpected friendships and support groups. Yes, your loss has been tremendous, your pain will still be there, but you are evolving beyond who you were a year ago. The fact that you are moving forward, does not mean that you have stopped loving your spouse/parents/child, or that you are not honoring them. You are honoring their memory, by embracing each and every day that you are gifted. Appreciate how much you have expanded and grown… without guilt.
I want to agree with Freud, who in 1917 wrote: ” Grieving is a natural process that should not be tampered with”. The fact that you can grieve, means that you have experienced love. To be able to mourn and grieve, is a gift to help us heal the pain. Let’s be compassionate towards ourselves and allow ourselves, and each other, to mourn and grieve at our own pace.