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Dealing with Grief and Loss: Building Resiliency in the mist of heartache and pain

Updated: Apr 1, 2019

"Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, bouncing back from obstacles in life." -APA

That moment when you feel like everything has stopped and stood still...the world has some how paused for a brief struggle to gain the next breathe, you realize the unimaginable as occurred. Breathless and at a loss of words , you say to your self, "this can't be happening to me." The fact of the matter is a loss has occurred that is so tremendous, it has shaken your world to the core. A part of your heart is missing and nearly knocks the wind out of you. You wonder how will I ever recover from a loss like this? When that moment passes, you realize that the world has never missed a beat; life is moving forward; people, family, friends are back to business as usual. You ask yourself, "how do I get back to normal?" I was walking around with part of my heart missing. Numb to life's conversations, I wondered how will ever get it back?

Grief and loss can best be explained by the notion of something you loved deeply that has now been removed. Grief can be caused by any loss, whether it be the loss of a relationship, lost job, loss of trust/expectations, new chapter in life, or death of a loved one. I found myself on the other end of grief and loss counseling this time. The counselor needing a counselor. When grief becomes so overwhelming that we can't express our emotions in a healthy way, it's time to seek professional support. I found myself struggling to overcome and work through my own grief; the death of my dad.

Grieving is a process. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, nor time limit; however it is unique to each individual. How you grieve could depend on many factors such as personality, coping skills learned, life experiences, your faith, or how significant the loss was to you. Moving forward after a loss doesn't mean you forget about the loss but that you have acknowledged or accepted that a loss has taken place and you have found peace within. Focusing on the positive experiences or celebrating the happier memories helps moving forward possible.

Psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes the process (cycle) of grief into five stages:

Some people may skip stages or bounce back in forth between the different stages. Not all people go through the grief cycle to heal. I was one of those people that bounced around between stages. I had to identify which stage I was in and sort through my emotions in a healthy way. There are different symptoms that can be displayed while grieving.

Emotional symptoms of grief are shock or disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger, or fear.

Physical symptoms of grief are fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or gain, aches and pains, or insomnia.

Seeking support from friends, family, faith-community (church), or professional help like a therapist might be necessary if you find your self withdrawing or isolating from others and wanting to be alone most of the time. I found myself isolating from others and on the brink of living reckless with the attitude of, " I don't care." Nothing mattered anymore. That's when I knew I needed to seek help. Having someone to talk to face to face is vital to healing from a loss. When hope and purpose starts to disappear from your life, grief and loss has taken control of your life.

Building resiliency in the mist of my heartache and pain meant overcoming my grief. My faith and seeking outside professional help built my strength to push through the darkest time in my life. Resiliency comes from weathering life's storms and finding strength to move forward. Focusing on the present, prayer,meditation, and positive thinking was key to building my resiliency. I had to intentionally choose to think positive and train myself to meditate on my positive experiences or memories in life. Staying in the present means being in the present moment and not the past. We can't change the past, however we can learn from it and choose to move forward by staying in the present and turning our attention on strengthen positive emotions. Remember, overcoming grief and loss doesn't mean forgetting, but it means building resiliency to live again with purpose!



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