How do you get the worst news of your life and move forward? How do you weather a tragedy that alters your life so much you can’t see how you can survive? How do you find the strength to enjoy life after that? Will you ever laugh again?
At first, you are in shock, moving through a fog. It’s hard to put anything in order and you feel lost and in disbelief. But once you come out of the fog, you need to find your way and you have to fight for it. Because we only have one life and I want you to make it worth living.
I’ve listed just a few of the ways I’ve used to help me forge this path for myself after my son’s suicide. Adapt these to your tragedy to help yourself.
1. Have faith you will find a way
You can get through this. Really. No matter how bad it is. Battles leave scars. And that’s OK because that’s how we grow. The truth your life will be different and it’s changed forever.
You have to decide that you are going to get through it and just know you will. The ‘how’ part comes later. I just want you to know you can. It’s sort of a “fake it till you make it strategy” and your attitude has everything to do with it. Bitterness is no way to go through life.
2. Find a support system
You cannot weather a crisis without a support system.
Some tragedies send friends running from you instead of to you. And sometimes family turns against you. Whatever your circumstances, find support somewhere. A group, a psychologist, a church, a meetup in your city. Make the effort to find what that is.
3. Appreciate your new wisdom
With every tragedy, you are privileged to have a new kind of wisdom that comes with having been through hell and back.
You see things entirely differently and sometimes it will surprise you that others can’t see what you see now. This is your gift for having weathered the most devastating event of your life. It may not be what you asked for or your preference but it’s what you have now and it’s very special. Use it to make the world a better place.
4. Plan things
Make plans to do things. Whether that’s a trip to Italy or a hike on a new trail in the woods. I make sure my calendar is not completely empty but I try not to make it so crazy busy I don’t have time to write or grieve. I want that time. But I don’t want that time day after day after day. I want distractions some days, to connect with other human beings. Don’t sit around and wait for someone to ask you. Be proactive.
5. Don’t let it defeat you
There are times you feel you can’t even get out of bed or have no reason to. But you do anyway. The key is not to let it defeat you. After a bad day, come back stronger and fight the urge to give up.
There are times you’ll feel defeated and just tell yourself you are not going to let it. Look for your purpose and be patient. Trust that it will come to you. Remember you have that wisdom to see solutions that others cannot see because of what you’ve been through. That is very valuable and you can be that change agent. When you are ready.
There will be days of despair. And there will be days you feel like you can do anything and nothing can stop you. You’ll find passion you never knew you had. Capitalize on that passion. Weather the hard days. But never, ever let it defeat you. Let it be a catalyst for a new purpose.