When you lose a loved one it may feel like life keeps hurling challenging situations at you. It will feel overwhelming, but there is a way to manage it.
The snowball of events following a loss
It may be that you’ve lost a partner, and then have to deal with the loss of income, having to manage all the housework and all the paperwork, and then having to attend a huge family event where the one you love is sorely missed.
Life keeps pounding you – again and again and again. You feel worse and worse, with your head clouded, and the weight of the world on your shoulders.
You may cry and cower and plead for someone, or God, to take this situation away from you.
But the situation is certainly still there, because that’s how life is. However hard it may be to believe, all that we experience in life is caused by what we have done in the past. There’s no getting away from it – the only way to resolve it is to dealt with. Somehow….
So what do you do?
How to live with challenging situations
When things get really tough, it may feel like there is no clear resolution. But actually, there are an abundance of options available to help you through it.
Better still, they can largely be grouped into three key areas.
1. Dodge it
Dodging the situation means to move away from it. To pick yourself out of the situation and place yourself elsewhere.
Sometimes the situation hurts just a little too much and all you want to do is run. That’s ok – it’s one option.
- If you feel claustrophic being in the house where your loved one was, you may choose to take a holiday in a different country, away from everything back home.
- If you are struggling to make polite conversation with that annoyingly nosy neighbour who is approaching you, you may just cross the road when you see them coming.
If you feel suffocated when surrounded by family at a large event, you may take a walk outside on your own or with someone you can comfortably talk with. Or perhaps briefly sit alone in the spare room with your eyes closed.
To dodge the situation means to somehow duck from it, to avoid it, to shelter yourself from it. In certain circumstances, it perfectly ok to do – but dodging it doesn’t always free you from it. Instead, it just keeps it at bay, temporarily.
2. Change it
An alternative to dodging the situation is to change it.
Changing a situation means to do something about it. To take action with the intent to change it’s form into something else.
- If a year after the loss you feel that a large house is too much to maintain and manage financially, then you may choose to sell your house and move into a smaller cosier place.
If the loss has shifted your priorities in life and it feels like your job has become unfulfilling, you may choose to apply for a job elsewhere or perhaps take up voluntary work.
If your son or daughter is getting married and planning the wedding feels overwhelming, then you could list out all the areas and tasks and consider who in your circle of family and friends you could delegate it all out to.
To change the situation means to do whatever’s in your power to make the situation different from what it is.
But sometimes, you’ll find that it’s just not possible to run from the situation or to change it…
3. Accept it
When dodging the situation or changing it is not an option in your case, you’ll want to find a way to accept it.
Accepting a situation means to see it for what it is, without getting emotionally caught up with it. It means to rise above the situation and observe it, like a witness, without judgement.
Close your eyes, observe where the feeling of burden resides and gradually let it pass. Then place your focus on something that will empower you to move forward in life.
- If you are the only one who is in a position to arrange the funeral and other related events, then you will want to take a deep breath, make a list of all that needs to be done, and systematically make arrangements.
If you are left with an almost empty bank account, you will want to understand what you need to live, you will want to take stock of what you do have and then explore ways to take care of your financial needs.
If you are left as the sole parent to a pair of toddlers, you will need to accept the situation for what it is, giving them the support they need to live bravely with love in their hearts.
To accept a situation means to be ok with the discomfort, to welcome it warmly into your life and to let it pass naturally when it’s ready. Over time, it gets easier to manage. With that brings lightness, calmness, and purpose.
Live with challenging situations – your way
A place I personally would like to get to when dealing with challenging situations in my own life is to first accept it, then respond to it appropriately (without the emotional ups and downs and the damage that leads to), and rarely to dodge it.
But that’s work in progress.
There is no right or wrong way to deal with the struggles of day-to-day life following the loss of a loved one. It certainly doesn’t have to be in the order shared so far.
Do what feels right to you and let me know how you’re getting on.