The writer discusses starting over and picking up the pieces after a challenging time or a major change such as being made redundant, losing a loved one or going through health issues. What happens to an individual at this time and what are the physical, mental and emotional changes that might occur.
Oprah Winfrey once said “Go ahead. Fall down. The world looks different from the ground.” And fall down I did, crashed and burned too.
It’s been a year since I’ve written an article for my Live Out Loud column; in the past year I went through almost every life changing event a person could go through. My biggest loss was losing my mother, who passed away a year ago this May after a five years battle with cancer, followed by the end of my seven years marriage, and the loss of a business venture which left me in debt and unable to meet my financial obligations.
As I grieved the loss of my mother, my relationship, and business I felt like a ship lost at sea, floating aimlessly, lulled by the sound of waves crashing against my sides, with no sense of direction or purpose. Like many people faced with extreme personal challenges and tragedies, I shut down. I cut myself off from the world with the exception of a few close family members and my best friends. I buried my head in the sand like an ostrich, I slept a lot like a bear hibernating in the winter, and I did nothing.
Well, it turns out that I instinctively did the right thing. My soul, mourning the loss of my mother and the end of my marriage, my brain overwhelmed by the debts that had piled up and no solution in sight; my body exhausted from a build-up of stress and sleep deprivation from spending months by my mother’s hospital bedside; instinctively protected me by shutting down and numbing my feelings. Sort of like what we do when our PC get’s stuck or the screen jams and the program we were using doesn’t respond; what do we do? We do a hard shutdown and reboot the system.
According to psychologists, this behavior is quite normal and is the first stage of the grieving process followed by bargaining, depression, anger and acceptance. Personally, I didn’t experience them in that order, and often times I found myself going back and forth between different stages, but what I did do was shut down. (Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-coping-with-grief)
I didn’t do much, I slept a lot, prayed, ate, slept, watched mind numbing television, slept some more and allowed myself to go through the process. I didn’t care what anyone thought was right nor felt the need to be “doing” something. I just knew “it will pass” because my mama always said that, and that I would make it through somehow because one of her favorite words of wisdom was “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
I knew that my temporary shutdown was a “reboot” and that my life would start up again in its own time. I had hope and I could see the light, having hit the ground, demolished all that was built, I now had a clearer view of the landscape and could start over.
Some people might make this out to be naïve disillusionment, but science has in fact proved that hope is not only the vehicle to success but also a pre-requisite for continued effort. Hope is the light that keeps us holding on. It has taken me a year to get to where I am today, but that’s okay because I can tell you that I have come back stronger, I am fearless because what I thought was the worst thing that could happen to me already has happened, and I survived. Today, I am writing again, I have restarted my business and opportunities are opening up everywhere, I am reconnecting with wonderful people and I am in a new relationship.
- National Cancer Institute: “Grief, Bereavement, and Coping With Loss (PDQ).”
- NIH News in Health: “Coping with Grief.”
- American Hospice Foundation: “Helping Yourself Through Grief.”
- The Hope Theory. Snyder , Charles R. and colleagues, 1991.
- The Will and Ways of Hope published in December 2011 by Scott Barry Kaufman Ph.D. , the Director of Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/201112/the-will-and-ways-hope)