As the second candle of Advent was lit last Sunday for peace, I offer this sage and proven advice, given to me during the aftermath of my first husband's sudden death in December 2012. These things help you manage your body, mind, will and emotions during the days and months following a bereavement and/or trauma. If you have been through a similar loss, or are finding life hard to navigate during this season, consider observing the following practices to aid you in "keeping the peace" in your life.
- Avoid listening to or watching the news, television, music or movies with intense, dark themes, or deeply emotional content.
- Try to not make any significant changes for at least one year, longer if possible.
- Maintain the discipline and routine of proper self-care: nutritional food intake, adequate rest, regular exercise, and regularly scheduled time for relaxation and recreation.
- Stay connected to a small group of trusted friends.
- Allow yourself to feel. Don't numb it with busyness, noise, work, food, booze or drugs. You cannot heal what you won't acknowledge. Allow tears to come.
- If you need help managing your pain, seek out a GriefShare group and/or a professional grief counsellor.
- Accept that the hole of another's absence will always be there. Time does bring a lessening of the pain, and it gives perspective, but full healing may not happen in this life.
- You will not always feel this way.
This has been my CPR for navigating grief. That, and the unshakable awareness of God's presence, love and mercy, carrying me every moment.
Tears are not a sign of weakness, they are the sign of an open heart.This one final, all encompassing thing I know and remember to keep the peace: God is love. All God ever does is motivated by love. I trust this truth. It is not easy. It is a discipline to trust. But when I do, it transforms and informs my life. In my weakest moment, I am stronger than I have ever been, because my strength is the presence of God.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
Photo by Jordan Steranka on Unsplash