Life’s been a big old roller coaster lately. Not just for myself, but for many others in my circle of influence. It’s had me thinking about a certain aspect of going through hard times, grieving processes, et cetera—the actual END of it. Or at least, the day you wake up and realize that you actually feel better, even in some small way.
This is a hard lesson I learned recently, after going through well over 6 months of serious depression over a personal loss. To put it into perspective for you, I went through a humongous breakup with someone I cared for deeply. Perhaps one of the toughest losses a human will almost inevitably face at some point. I woke up one day about a week or so ago, and went through an entire day and night cycle without thinking about this person. Not out of anger or spite, but because it just sort-of happened. I don’t think I would be actually finding myself healing if there was any anger or spite in my thoughts. Those feelings DO happen, but they do pass with time, as well.
Now, obviously, how long this process takes varies from person to person. But the lesson I learned is that my circle of influence was right. They were right all along. I didn’t even notice this had happened until several days later when something triggered a random memory, and it finally dawned on me.
Sometimes when we’re going through hard times, we hear advice, but we don’t want to listen.
Sometimes when we’re going through hard times, we hear advice, but we don’t want to listen. Or sometimes it can just bounce right off of us, perhaps unintentionally, because we actually intend to do things our own way anyway. I’m guilty of that. I had solid advice coming to me from all angles, and while I DID listen, I knew I had to work things out on my own. For better or worse. (The aim being “better”.) Sometimes we just need friends to talk to, to let it out in the open and release it from being locked up in our minds. I think that’s a good, healthy thing to have access to.
I learned that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, to reach out and ask someone, or several people for legitimate help. Dark times can lead us to dark thoughts. Sometimes we catch our thoughts growing darker, and darker. Almost as if it truly feels that the Dark Side is somehow creeping in. But when we get to the point where we’ve made a personal decision to stand up and say “Enough is enough. I’m ready for change,” It’s our friends, Family, or whoever else in our lives we feel we can trust and rely on, that can help us the most. Even if we don’t realize it until we have that “wake up” experience.
Make yourself one of your top priorities.
It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. And, if we truly care about others deep down in our hearts, then self-care is absolutely necessary to keep us able and willing to continue being as caring about others as we possibly can. You simply cannot build a house with the intention of holding your circle of influence if your foundation (YOU) is cracked. Your happiness and health are vital to your whole being. So my advice, if you want it, would be to make yourself one of your top priorities.
This, I think, applies to almost any situation in which you experience grief, whatever the cause or form, not just in my example of relationships and loss. In almost any situation where grief is involved, there will most likely be moments where you feel like giving up. Like it’s just not worth it. This is natural. I believe this ties in with the fourth stage of grief: Depression.
According to WebMD, the stages of grief are as follows:
Denial: When you first learn of a loss, it’s normal to think, “This isn’t happening.” You may feel shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It’s a defense mechanism.
Anger: As reality sets in, you’re faced with the pain of your loss. You may feel frustrated and helpless. These feelings later turn into anger. You might direct it toward other people, a higher power, or life in general. To be angry with a loved one who died and left you alone is natural, too.
Bargaining: During this stage, you dwell on what you could’ve done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are “If only…” and “What if…” You may also try to strike a deal with a higher power.
Depression: Sadness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and its effect on your life. Signs of depression include crying, sleep issues, and a decreased appetite. You may feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely.
Acceptance: In this final stage of grief, you accept the reality of your loss. It can’t be changed. Although you still feel sad, you’re able to start moving forward with your life.
In my personal experience, the first sign of acceptance showed up on the day I woke up and didn’t have any thoughts at all about that person. Again, not out of anger or spite, but because I was just finally, mentally letting go. And now, it’s a somewhat strange experience being on the other side of it all, and being able to look back and sort of analyze the last 6 months or so. But I also don’t catch myself doing that very much either.
Be mindful of the past, be mindful of the future, but keep your mind in the present.
I want to mention though, before I end this article, that I think it’s important to note and remember that, healing doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting. Forgetting could lead us to walking the same path twice and stumbling over the same rocks and cracks, even though we’ve already done it before. I think part of acceptance and healing comes from legitimately learning from our experiences. Be mindful of the past, be mindful of the future, but keep your mind in the present. It sounds complicated maybe at first, but with practice and experience, it could greatly benefit us later on when things inevitably take a tumble.
If you’re reading this right now, and you’re going through a difficult time, whatever it may be. I sincerely hope reading this article helped, even in some small way. And, at very least, I just hope you enjoyed reading it.
My fellow friends, my fellow Jedi…May the Force Be with You.
-Padawan Corey S. Vaspra