We all go through difficult times. During those dark days we feel as though light will never grace us with its beauty again. Child loss is perhaps one of the worst things to experience because it defies the natural order of life. On the flip side, it is an event that often brings out a great deal of compassion in people. No one has yet to say anything to me that came from a place other than concern. One of the best pieces of wisdom I received was to periodically look back during my journey. When I heed this advice, I am always amazed to see how far I have come.
While enduring difficult seasons of our lives it seems impossible to believe things will ever get better. We have to walk through the pain to get to the other side. There is no going around it. The beauty of walking through pain is looking back to where you started. Nothing remains the same. Some things are worse and some are better. Either way you have weathered the storm and gained strength.
It is easy to abandon the fight when you are presented with difficulties and challenges. You must stay the course and keep moving through. Here are some things that have helped me over the past three and a half years.
- Find your tribe – Whether you know it or not, there are people out there who would help you in a second. This may include your family, friends you already have, acquaintances or perfect strangers. I work best when I can see people and communicate with them readily. Admittedly I am not great on the phone, email or text. My family and friends can attest to that! So, I talk to the people who I physically surround myself with. If you are not comfortable with that, join an online support group. We have so many resources today that help is never far away. You just have to reach for it. It is easy to isolate during difficult times. Connection is a must.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – Once you have found your tribe, don’t be afraid to ask for help. We make sure to teach our children the importance of asking for help when they need it. We also guide them to help others in need. Yet once we reach adulthood, we find the need to prove we can do everything on our own. Needing help is not synonymous with being weak. In fact it takes self attunement, courage and strength. You will find that when you start asking others for help, they will feel more comfortable to ask during their time of need.
- Create a routine – This will not look the same for everyone. It will also change over time. When times are at their worst it looks like surviving. You eat, hydrate, sleep and put one foot in front of the other. As you move through your pain it will evolve with you. Maybe the next step is to add journaling to your routine. Then you can add something else. This will give you a sense of accomplishment. It will also help you to instill healthy habits. When something is part of you routine, you no longer have to think. You just do.
- Take time for yourself – This is a must when you are going through a rough time. It will keep you from losing your mind. Again this will look different for everyone. Maybe this means taking a walk, meditating, reading a book, listening to music. We are all different. A good guideline is to take at least 15 minutes of the day, at a time when you can actually enjoy the time you take for yourself. For me, this means nighttime is out. I am simply too tired. My 15 minutes happens in the morning. Find a time that is good for you.
- Be patient with yourself – Difficult times call for non-judgmental measures! Be easy on yourself. Don’t measure your healing progress or ability to get through hard times from one snapshot of your life. Look at all the shots and let them tell the whole story. Some days will be better than others. Remember healing and hard times cannot be rushed; no matter how much we want them to be. After all, patience is a virtue.
- Listen to your heart – This is one of my gifts of grief. This tragic, horrible experience that I went through taught me to listen to my heart. It taught me that so much of what I need to know lies within me. I just need to listen and trust in myself. Difficult times often make us doubt everything about ourselves and our lives. The practice of listening to my heart includes closing my eyes, conjuring my personal image of what my soul represents and listening carefully to its message. Often times this helps me to clarify something that I have been struggling with.
- Remember that no feeling lasts forever – Often times I chant this phrase to myself as a reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is no feeling, good or bad, that lasts forever. Even during my darkest times tiny fractions of light momentarily show themselves. Many times it is the form of my children’s smile, a stranger’s act of kindness or a funny memory. It’s so hard to remember this when we are feeling low but it is so necessary. Take it one day, sometimes one hour, sometimes one minute at a time.
Each day the sun rises again. Look back to see how far you’ve come. Love to heaven…