How many of us wish there was a reliable formula that would help us predict when we will feel better after an illness, loss or disappointment? It would be excellent if we could be guaranteed that after a specific period of time or because we took care of ourselves in a skillful way that our pain, whether physical or emotional, would be relieved.
It is easy to feel indignant, frustrated or disappointed. It is common to feel, “I took actions intended to make myself feel better and yet do not have as much of an improvement as I prefer or feel I deserve.”
Recovery can be fickle. Some people may seem to ‘bounce back’ after the loss of a loved one, becoming unemployed or the end of a romance. Others of us may be very confused wondering some of the following: “My father died over 6 months ago. Why am I still so miserable like it happened yesterday?”; “How can I be depressed over losing a job I didn’t even enjoy anyway?”; or “If I have a new girlfriend already, why do I keep checking the Facebook page for news about my last one?”
Unfortunately there is no systematic way to assure ourselves that a specific period of time or healing ritual will produce the results we prefer. One of the best ways to move forward with greater ease is to understand the erratic nature of grief. There are times it seems our mood is heavy or upset no matter what we try to do to console or lift ourselves up.
There can also be wonderful surprises as well. It is possible that during a dark period, almost at random, the sun may hit our face and shoulders in a certain way that suddenly melts layers of our sadness or stress. Occasionally seeing a person in a worse situation than our own can open us up and out of our own story and back into gratitude for all the goodness we still have in our lives. Unexpected moments can include a hug, burst of physical movement, word of advice, funny joke, or new opportunity that lets us know it is okay to enter a new phase of feeling better.
It is better not to rush ourselves or become impatient. When we are ready, moments can come when we realize that no matter what painful or traumatizing experience we have endured there are likely other people throughout the history of the world who have recovered from a similar difficulty. Each of our problems is simultaneously very personal and yet also part of what we go through as humans.
Let’s remember to be kind to each other and ourselves. We can understand that any one of us may be trying to feel better following an event, either recent or quite long ago, that challenged our spirit. Feeling better after a loss may look different for each of us.
We would love to hear from you! Has a person or experience ever surprised you that suddenly helped brighten a dark experience? What are your suggestions on how to move past a time when you felt stuck or hopeless?