If you have ever woken up with the hope that losing someone special was just a bad dream you're definitely not alone. Whether you are saying your goodbyes to that special someone or confronting the sudden reality of losing a loved one, goodbyes are never easy.
The experience can be particularly devastating when you've spent countless time and energy building your world around this special someone. It’s as if the vital pillar that keeps your temple together has been taken away. Your walls start caving in and the floor beneath you are abruptly swallowed by the gravity of emptiness.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this. Saying our goodbyes doesn’t have to be an ordeal in which we struggle to find our equilibrium day in and day out. Yes people always leave however sometimes they come back (in the case of separation). Let's explore what we can do in situations where we feel all hope is lost and our world simply loses meaning.
Through my experiences I have learned to become resilient to the matters that shatter hearts. It's with my deepest compassion that I would like to share some of the knowledge and insights that have helped pull me out from the shadows and allowed me to rebuild myself stronger than ever.
Of course everyone deals with the grief from loss or separation differently so I would like to dedicate and craft this article to those who have lost a part of themselves through unfortunate circumstances.
Note that some of these strategies may or may not be applicable to all situations.
What Do I Do Now?
3 Underlying Vital Truths
One of the most common questions we ask ourselves when we experience loss is what do I do now? The reality of the situation is that there is so much you can do to restore that feeling of security and certainty. The key is to realize that there are certain truths that will serve you and certain truths that pull you deeper into despair. Here are 3 vital truths that will serve you in finding your equilibrium or make you feel whole again.
- Your emotional state heavily influences your actions and behavior: Your emotions run high especially when experiencing loss, recognize that your emotions will make you act irrationally and often cause more damage than good. When your emotions take over it feels as if your world is turned upside down, everything you do to make yourself feel better only makes you feel worse. It's o.k to feel the way you do you just need to find healthy outlets for these sometimes destructive emotions.
- Distractions don't heal you they numb you: When feeling vulnerable people find all ways to try numb their pain. Recognize that these are merely distractions. Things such as seeking synthetic means (drugs, alcohol, binge eating, retail therapy etc.), living in denial or keeping yourself busy with work are like temporary Band-Aids that may only heal on the surface but not on the inside. Instead, you are left with deep emotional wounds in your psyche that can open up at the most unexpected moments.
- Advice is only as good as your actions: Writer Erica Jong once quoted “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.” When we are lost we tend to look to others for advice and support. What tends to happen is that we find ourselves doing the complete opposite of what advice we were given (Vital Truth 1). A lot of the times we already know what to do deep down inside us, we just don't do it. Recognize that the only one that can truly take control of our well-being is ourselves.
Having recognized and accepted these truths let’s work on ways to heal you from the inside out. Here are 7 effective ways to restore your sense of self. Mind you that each of these solutions may apply to different situations
1. Maintain Regular Contact
If possible you can maintain regular contact with that special someone. Even if it is postcards, phone calls or social media, their seeming presence can alleviate the woes of the heart. With the proliferation of technology and social media there are endless means to keep in touch.
This is more of a weaning off process than it is a substitute for human touch and connection. On the other hand, simply denying our impulses suddenly or ‘going cold turkey’ can create an accumulation of negative emotions being pent-up and manifesting in other destructive forms (i.e. addictions, irritability etc.).
The gradual phasing down of contact is important for us to slowly adapt to the prevailing situation and become 'normal' again. Although it might not be the same as it was before, we are better equipped to deal with building our lives up again.
2. Find Hope and Optimism
When I was severely depressed, I found a calming of pain with hope and optimism, not from myself but from a good friend of mine. Their natural optimism and vibrant disposition gave me a sense of certainty I needed to pull me out from my own shadows. Looking back, even if it was just false hope and optimism, I realized it allowed me to regain my strength and vitality to relieve me from my inner burdens.
You don't have to be an eternal optimist (that would be lying yourself), you can shift your focus on to more positive thoughts rather than purely negative.
Irrespective of whether you find it from within or from someone else finding a sense of hope and optimism is one of the most powerful ways to deal with despair.
3. See it as an Opportunity to Grow
Complacency is often a result of being too comfortable to the point you stagnate. Life is about growth and by definition if something is not growing then it must be dying. So in the absence of someone you love do you want to be stagnating or flourishing?
If you ask me, a flourishing person is a more attractive and happy person. Yes I know it is hard to even concentrate on the simplest tasks when you experience loss however in the long-run when you look back, you will probably regret wasting time moping around or wallowing in your self-pity.
If you want to flourish then look to grow with activities that create similar feelings of happiness when that special someone was around. Do the things you enjoy even if your 'instincts' might dismiss it initially. Force yourself to just do it. More often than not you will find that you will feel better after doing it. For instance, pick up a musical instrument you haven’t played for a while, go out and play favorite sport with your closest friends or volunteer to help others do something you're an expert in– basically anything meaningful that makes you feel better as a person and keeps you growing positively.
As long as you keep investing in meaningful activities you will grow exponentially from these experiences. Just remember to keep it balanced and not over do it!
In part 2 of 'Dealing With Goodbyes - 7 Powerful Ways That Will Make You Feel Complete Again' lets look at some other powerful yet simple ways to overcome the feeling of despair and build ourselves up stronger than ever.
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