Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to Deal with the Storms of Life

The storms of life hit all of us at times. We encounter loss, heartache, grief, and sadness, and a lot of times we have no idea how to make it through these particularly difficult parts of life. Everyone around us has their suggestions and advice, or even worse, nothing to say at all when we go through a painful situation. But what are we supposed to do when things go from better to worse and then worse to worst? What is the plan when one wave of life knocks us down and another one comes before we can even find out footing again?

Whether it's the loss of a loved one, divorce, a breakup, traumatic event, difficult news or a shocking diagnosis...Here are my thoughts for 4 ways to make it through painful moments in life.


1.) Survive
This may seem simple, but I can certainly assure that even surviving can feel like climbing Mount Everest for someone going through a difficult time in life. And what I mean by "survive," is just to simply make it through each day. Eat, drink, sleep, and survive.  When you're drowning in the middle of the ocean and fighting to stay above the waves, you aren't concerned with the form of your strokes or your tan lines. You just have to keep your head above the water. Forget the "fluff" of life: thank you cards, meetings, laundry, miscellaneous appointments, etc. At least temporarily, if it isn't required for you to survive through the day, let it slide.

2.) Stay close to supportive, loving people you can trust
Support of trusted friends and family can make an enormous difference in your grieving process. Being honest with them about what you need and don't need is also very important. If you're the type of person who wants people around and doesn't like to be alone, then vocalize those desires. And conversely, if you're the type who likes to be alone and grieve in solitude, then by all means, let that be known. Sometimes family and friends do their best to show support and love, and their best way of showing it may not be what you need/want. And if you know someone going through a difficult time and don't want to say/do the wrong thing, please read this article. I think it beautifully describes how to be a good friend to those in painful situations:  How Not to Say the Wrong Thing

3.) Avoid people who will cause confusion, irritation, or hurt
This may seem like it would be obvious given #2; however, it deserves its own bullet point. In the grieving process, it is all about YOU. You get to decide who you let in and who you don't, and there is nothing wrong with avoiding people who you bring you down during that process.

My family went through a traumatic experience when my sister was diagnosed with Leukemia at 5 years old (To read about my sister's survival and beautiful story, Click Here). My parents had to learn the hard way that some unexpected friends would be there for support, and other friends they counted on to be there wouldn't be. At times, some people were judgmental, mean, and downright nasty to my parents. In the process of caring for their terminally ill daughter, I can see nothing wrong with avoiding the people whose only function was to bring my family down. Basically, if someone's not throwing you a life jacket and helping you to keep from drowning, they aren't necessary to keep close to you.

4.) Cling to the truth
One of the most important things to do in the process of dealing with "waves of life" is to cling to what is true. So often, people in situations with horrible loss and almost constant hurt can become confused, lost, and afraid. One of the best ways to counter these emotions (other than to lean on others who are supportive) is to cling to what is true. Find Scripture that speaks to God's fondness of you to help if you are fighting doubts about who you are as a person. Review facts about what has happened and what may occur in the future in order to focus your mind and help to keep it from spinning out of control. Sometimes it seems impossible to focus your mind during these parts of life; cut yourself some slack. Be kind to yourself, and if you don't have the support system you need, consider seeing a therapist to help you organize and sort through the overwhelming spot you're in.

One thing that is guaranteed for all of us in life is to encounter difficult moments. For some of us, those moments may last longer and have fewer breaks between now and the next one. Hopefully, these 4 ideas might help you get through a painful situation or help you to be a better support for someone who is. I hope this brings some encouragement for those currently in painful situations... that surviving through it may be the best way you know how, and your best is enough.

im thankful.
carrie anne


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