Have you ever faced the kind of gut-wrenching adversity that crushed your spirit and sank you into despair?
As I’ve written about before, I’ve been a full-time caretaker for my mother who suffered from Lewy Body dementia. On top of that, my son is going through a nasty divorce, my mother-in-law is fighting ovarian cancer, and we recently moved into our new house and had no gas for two weeks.
Even with all that – cold showers and no stove taboot – I was surviving. I tried to follow my own advice in my blogs about allowing adversity to teach me important life lessons and mold me into a better and stronger person. Then life served up another whopper a month ago when my Mom died. Now that stopped me in my tracks.
During her lifetime, my Mom was my best friend, advisor, and soul mate. She made me feel safe and secure and was the root and foundation of my being. True, because of the dementia I have been losing my mother slowly for years. Yet, I still felt a deep sorrow and loss when she passed away. As the reality sunk in, I couldn’t believe she was gone. I felt lost.
Maybe you’re facing some kind of loss or trying to overcome adversity. Maybe like me, you’ve recently lost a loved one. Or perhaps you’re facing a serious illness or going through a nasty divorce.
So, how do you move forward after a life-changing loss? How do you pick up the scattered pieces of your soul and begin living again? Here are five ways to find the strength to go on and make the most out of your life:
Take the Journey
As I’m discovering, there are no short cuts to the grieving process. Don’t fight the emotions. Whether you like it or not, you will be forced to go along for this painful and bumpy ride. I surrendered myself to all the feelings of loss, guilt, sadness, and depression. Accept all the ups and downs. Honor the journey.
Lean on Loved Ones
Although it’s tempting, now is not the time to isolate yourself. Ask and accept help from your loved ones. For example, losing my Mom has made me draw closer to my siblings who are traveling this painful journey by my side. This was my mother’s ultimate wish and she would be pleased that we have come to appreciate each other on a whole new level. If you’re a spiritual person, this is the time to strengthen your relationship with God so he can give you the power to carry on and find inner peace again.
Express Your Feelings
Don’t bottle up your feelings and try to appear strong for everyone. I am an introvert and a fairly private person, but I realize that now is the time to openly discuss my feelings with others. Pouring your heart out in a journal can also be beneficial. Sharing your thoughts with others can help you decide what to do next and figure out how to move forward with your life.
Once you’ve gone through the first three steps, be careful not to get stuck in all the “I should have…” or “I wish…” that often comes with the territory but can interfere with your recovery. Grieving is inevitable, but don’t allow sorrow to become a way of life. The goal is not to wallow forever in negative feelings but to move on, be there for the people who need you, and enjoy life once again.
Take Positive Action
When something bad happens to you, it can actually be a potent and powerful influence in your life. It can clarify your priorities and define your path. Adversity can be a catalyst for making changes. As yourself what kind of action will make you feel happy and fulfilled. Then take one small step each day to move toward that goal. Focusing on the needs of others is also an effective and positive way to move forward.
You can make a conscious decision to make the most of your life no matter what obstacles or painful experiences come your way. If you make that second choice, you will develop strength and endurance. You will become wiser and teach others by example how they can overcome adversity. You will grow as a person in ways that would not otherwise be possible.
If I can leave you with one positive thought it is that you can survive anything. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I know it deep in my soul.
Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net