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When Joy Turns to Tears: Five Strategies to Overcome Grief

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04 Aug 2015

Tears

The joy of receiving a soul into this world and finally enjoying the blessing of fatherhood turned into the pain of grief. When the doctor looked into my eyes and explained to me what had happened ending with the famous words “we did everything we could……”, I was completely broken. I could feel the earth opening up from underneath me, I felt light and useless. Could it have been a mind-boggling miscalculation by these highly educated medical boffins, well maybe, but it was a robbery nonetheless.

When something chaotic and unexpected happens – in the words of Peter Windsor, “It makes you think about life.” It makes one think about fate, destiny and even God. You question, “Is someone pulling the strings or is this a result of random chaos?” For you to be robbed of a blessing in such an unexpected way triggers a deep sinking feeling that something is not right with this world.

I was immediately engulfed by clouds of loneliness, a loneliness that transcends solitude. I felt like I had been handcuffed, charged and a sent to jail by a judge who happens to be your very own sweetheart. The sunshine in my life quickly disappeared. I had always been a pretty positive person, but at that moment I felt hope slipping through my fingertips like water in a porous pot.

I recall looking at her soon after she was born. She was like a deep sea-creature in the ocean of my heart. The one love I had longed for deep in my heart was finally here.

Before she arrived I had dreamed of being a father changing her diapers with love and bathing her every night when I got home. I wanted her to feel my love. Yes I was ready. Ready for the sleepless nights. I was ready to give her the best beginning one could ever ask for. But here I am, a year later and all I have is a memory of two days with my angel and darkness after that. A darkness so intense you could touch it.  Writing this today, I realise that I love her more than ever. I don’t want to lose that love; if I do that would be my greatest loss.

It was the most difficult time of my life. A sad chapter in the epistle of my existence. I am normally a believer that out of every situation there must be a blessing. This, one of my deepest beliefs, was unequivocally challenged.  I felt drained of every ounce of faith or vitality. It took all the energy I had to keep from slumping to the floor. As the hours evolved into days, it became exhausting — even physically painful — to make any decisions. Our family was completely unprepared for the feelings of confusion and disorganization following our loss.

I know there are many in the world today who may be going through a similar situation. I wanted to take time to share some strategies that helped our family get through this painful period. While the pain of loss could never be erased, I am a firm believer now more than ever that one day the sun will shine again. The emptiness has not gone away, but I’m in a better place to accept and embrace the situation and still be able to move on with life in the most possible way.

So here are my recommended strategies for you:

1. Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.

2. Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. Write about your loss in a journal. If you’ve lost a loved one, write a letter saying the things you never got to say; make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life; or get involved in a cause or organization that was important to him or her.

3. Look after your physical health. Grief consumes a significant amount of energy. The mind and body are connected. When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel better emotionally. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, and include a physical activity in your daily routine. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially.

4. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgement. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.

5. Hold on to your faith. This was a difficult one for me but a friend encouraged me not to lose faith and I am forever grateful for that piece of advice. Re-examining priorities and questioning your belief system is normal. From my experience your faith can be a great source of strength. Try not to be mad at God. Allowing yourself to fully feel and openly express the changes you may be experiencing in your belief structure can be helpful. It is important to be patient with yourself as you sort out your feelings.

As I conclude, I just want to remind you that death ends a lifetime but not a relationship. Stay hopeful and successful in all you do. If anything do it for your departed loved ones.

My name is Wellington and I seek to share strategies for successful living particularly strategies for mitigating the various risks that we face in life, strategies that would smoothen our journey through life and increase our chances of success. I hope you enjoy this article. Feel free to share with as many of your friends as possible.

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