by Jan McDaniel
So many people are grieving, feeling the pain of loss. And it is not always possible for them to have others who will listen, who will witness the pain in their hearts. Without that, and without working through the changes and processing it takes to move forward, healing cannot happen. Such pain is traumatic. It alters lives forever. And the road is long. I believe tiny points of light come to us all along, but often it is difficult to see them. When we do see small steps, it may feel like they will never be enough. As a result, many people hide their pain and suffer in silence.
Support is vital. People who have been on this road longer or who are walking beside or behind you can take your hand and offer words of encouragement and hope. Their actions, too, mean so much as they reach out to help you rebuild your strength and your life. And, if they encounter the overwhelming sadness you recognize, you are there to help them because periods of sorrow can return after you lose someone you love. Search for support groups and people who understand wherever you can find them.
In the years since my beloved husband's death, I've found traumatic loss can take many forms. How do these affect our lives?
Comments from others, well-intended or not, can tear us down and delay the return to life. Focus on self-care and stay in touch only with those who can help you heal. The deep wounds caused by losing a loved one make it necessary to create for ourselves atmospheres of healing much like “ICU’s for the soul.” If there is no way to avoid a family member or co-worker who continually injures with words, try to explain what you need at this vulnerable time, or ask a friend to explain for you.
Stress attacks our bodies. This might begin with handling legal matters after a death or when completing a necessary move or job change. Helping children grieve and continue their lives is another challenge. Illness, addictions, or anxiety/depression make the road twist and turn. Handling additional problems in life or just routine chores we are not accustomed to handling can be wearing. Talk with your doctor, your child’s teacher, and others who need to know what happened. Ask for their cooperation. And take very good care of yourself. Medications, rest, exercise, good nutrition and staying hydrated can give your body the strength it needs to cope.
External situations add to the difficulty, either through isolation, uncertainty or fear, but these can be managed to the degree that you are able. Ask for help and help others whenever you can. There is something very powerful in this kind of connection that brings healing to both parties.
Wherever there is suffering and sorrow, traumatic grief can be present. Healing requires love and respect. From those closest to us and from the rest of our culture and our society at large. Love unites us. So does sorrow. With the whole world experiencing pandemic conditions and us or our neighbors struggling to be treated fairly, there are additional worries but also new hope. Compassion isn't contagious, but it should be.
What happens to people around us matters and affects each of us. As social creatures, we mourn with those we do not know. This is our nature. We live in a world full of roads through impossible territory that we must traverse. Some of the paths we take collectively are mostly good; some are mostly evil. But as humankind, we can make the hardships easier by loving each other and choosing well. It is the same with healing as individuals.
I see hope for the future. Hope and strength. Ahead, I see social activities for whole families, community conversations and plans, wellness programs and support groups led by community leaders who can help us get to know each other better. We are one body – we humans – and have so much to learn from and share with each other on the road to healing.
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love
Way for Hope
Losing someone you love is difficult, but it can mean a lot to hear from others traveling similar paths.
Links of Value:
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Word of God
"My Story" Big Daddy Weave
"Hope in Front of Me"
The Joy FM
Traumatic loss or preexisting conditions can worsen mental health. Use this info graphic to find help.
"Take Charge of Your Mental Health" - a free download from www.nami.org: