Live with challenging situations

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

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.

Wash away the pain

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

When the pain of loss feels too much to bear, wash it away by getting in touch with water.

Life’s overwhelming emotions

With any kind of loss in life, the emotions that arise can become overwhelming. You may feel lost and confused. Or angry and resentful. Or guilty and distressed.

Perhaps all you want to do is hide under the sheets or run down the street shouting and screaming.

This is understandable and will pull your mind in one direction and your heart in another. It will feel like you’re being torn apart, right down the middle.

But there is something simple that will settle the inner turbulence, just when you need it the most.

One thing that has always brought me great calm is getting in touch with the calming force of water.

Water washes away the pain

Last year I was running a business with a very close friend. The business wasn’t working out and we mututally decided to end it and focus on other things.

At the end of one of our closing business meetings, I was hit with a variety of powerfully negative emotions such as guilt, frustration, lack of self-respect and lack of self-acceptance. As I cowered back to where my car was parked, tears of shame gradually rolled down my face.

Suddenly, without warning, the heavens opened up and heavy rain poured down. As the rain got heavier and heavier, visibility reduced more and more. I paused, stood tall, closed my eyes and let the water fall on my hair, my face, my clothes and what felt like every last inch of my body.

I could hear the heavy raindrops crashing on the tarmac. I could feel the coolness of each drop of water that landed on my skin. I could smell the green grass as it allowed the rain to quench it’s thirst. I could see the rain create a film between me and the world, almost as if it was protecting me from the worldly suffering.

As the drops of rain water gushed across my face, they merged with the tears streaming from my eyes. As each raindrop fell on my face, I gradually felt lighter and lighter. Each drop that fell on me slowly and surely cleared away every last bit of my pain.

I stood there, on the pavement at the end of the road, totally drenched, but more alive than ever before.

This is the cleansing power of water.

Getting close to water

Whenever you feel the overwhelm of emotions, you don’t have to wait for the thundering gods to unleash the heavy rain. Consider some of the following ways to get in touch with water to bring calm into your life.

  • Sit by a lake or stream: Just sit by a calm gentle lake and let your mind settle on that peaceful setting, or allow your feelings and thoughts to flow along with the stream.

  • Water the flowers in your garden: Get a bucket or turn on the spinkler and treat your garden to some much deserved water. Quench it’s thirst. Give water to help another life live with less suffering. Through that, heal your own.

  • Take a hot shower: Perfect for waking up to commence a new day or wash away the distressing emotions you are carrying with you.

  • Have a warm bath: Run a bath, add your favourite scented bubbles, perhaps a yellow rubber duck and immerse yourself into the cosy gentle sensation of a warming bubble bath. As you settle in the warmth, let your troubles lift away.

  • Wash the dishes: This one never fails me. It gives me a clear task to focus on, lets me play with water, and each dish I scrub, rinses away another troubling emotion.

  • Install a water feature at home: You can buy a small electrical powered water feature to have within the home, or have one built in your garden outdoors, creating your own mini-haven at home.

  • Imagine a waterfall: Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting near or under and flowing waterfall. Let each drop quench your inner thirst for peace, love and happiness.

  • Listen to the flowing water: Download the sound of flowing water and play it on your computer or music device. Better still, lay on your bed, gently close your eyes, and play the sound, while drifting to another land where your troubles have faded away.

I hope each of these watery ideas help you find greater calm just when you need it the most in your life.

4 stages of bereavement

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

From shock to strength: it does get better

In our day to day lives, loss affects each of us on some scale.

There can be smaller losses such as dropping some loose change from a pocket, or a slight scratch on a brand new car.

At other times there may be significant losses, such as a house burning down, the loss of eyesight, or even the death of a loved one.

The type of loss we will explore here is the one you go through when someone close to you passes away.

Loss that leads to bereavement

Along with loss comes bereavement – a range of feelings over time that arise from that loss.

If you are facing a significant loss yourself, or are seeking to support someone who is going through a major loss, you may notice a pattern of bereavement that is common for many people.

The four stages of bereavement

There are four common stages of bereavement:

  1. immediate shock
  2. unable to accept
  3. depression
  4. renewal

However, keep in mind that we are all different. Grief is individual, and the way and order in which we grieve will vary.

Stage 1: Immediate reaction of shock

As soon as the death occurs, and over the following hours and days, you may be in a state of shocked disbelief.

Alternatively, instead of immediate shock, you may be rather calm and detached.

Either reaction is natural and understandable.

Stage 2: Unable to accept

At this stage, you may think that the person you have lost is still physically with you.

You are unable to accept the loss, and at some level are denying that the death has occurred.

You may make mistakes that may confuse or frighten you. Examples include:

  • waking up and expecting them to be lying next to you.
  • going downstairs in the morning and expecting them to be in the kitchen as usual, lovingly preparing breakfast for you.
  • laying a place for them at the dinner table.
  • calling the family down for dinner and calling their name out too.

This might freak you out a bit, but it is all normal. Daily habits are so deeply ingrained that they will continue to be part of your day.

Stage 3: Depressed and alone

No matter how many people are around you, or how much support you receive, you will have small moments or even long periods of time when you feel lost, alone and confused.

This could span across many many months.

You may question your own faith, your faith in God, faith in other people, and even faith in yourself.

You may lose interest in everything and may want to shut yourself off from the world.

You may question whether even your own life is worth living.

This may be a very heavy and lonely time.

Even this phase passes.

Stage 4: Renewed strength and focus

Eventually, as the pain eases, you find yourself being able to think about the person you have lost, without feeling sad.

This is a chance to recommence life with a renewed sense of strength and focus.

You could continue with old interests, or you could take up new pursuits.

Do you feel disloyal to the person who has died?

Remember that they are always a part of you, and you can allow yourself to enjoy the present.

There was a man whose wife had died. They had been married over 25 years. 18 months after she died, he took up salsa classes and started dating. He had discovered how to have fun again and his spirit was renewed.

From shock to strength: it does get better

From the moment the death occurs, you may feel grief and sadness, but you may also experience feelings of anger, fear, self-pity or even panic.

You don’t need to hide them – they are a part of your bereavement.

Share these feelings with a sympathetic listener – it does help.

Some of your friends may avoid you – this happens. It is most likely that they are embarrassed and don’t know what to say. Be understanding. Take the first step and let them know you need their support.

Grief is a very isolating process – we feel as if no-one could possibly experience what we are going through. But millions of people around the world have been through it, and they are doing fine now.

Whatever stage of bereavement you are at, remember that the pain will pass and life will again be full of strength, focus and joy.