How do you recover from divorce, breast cancer, loss of a job, and not seeing your child every day?
Dr. Zoe Answered:
My immediate visual after reading your experience is a warrior woman, still standing in the midst of the haze of battle. You may not visualize yourself in this way, but you are still standing—and you’ve been through a battle!
I don’t know all of the circumstances. I’m not sure if you have an adult child or a minor. But loss is loss and the best way to recover from it is to walk through it.
When a lot of bad things happen to you, you can get hyper-focused on yourself—and you need to! But it can also lead to increased despair and depression if you mull over your losses on a daily basis.
So, in order to recover, there needs to be a beautiful balance of acknowledging and honoring your losses, feeling all the feelings, and determining to stay present and live life at the same time. [Don’t miss episode 075 of This Grit and Grace Life podcast where I talk about healthy emotions!]
The recovery from your conglomeration of losses is not as definitive as your recovery from cancer. There is no one to declare you in remission. And the psychological loss from cancer lingers long after a diagnosis of remission.
Grief and Depression
Scientific research has given us two conflicting truths about grief and depression.
1. Depression is reduced and eradicated when people get outside of their own pain and help others.
2. If you push down your feelings and don’t express them, your sadness turns into something dark and very unhealthy.
Thus the balance is needed.
This is going to look different every day. Some days it may look like going out with friends or seeking more connection. Some days it will look like harnessing your pain into a cause that you know will benefit others. Some days you will be doing good just to get through your obligations of the day! And some days it will look like staying in bed all day, crying, and taking care of yourself.
On any given day, no matter how badly you feel, know that the most comforting and frustrating thing about life is that nothing stays the same. “This too shall pass.”
I don’t mean that you will “get over it.” I have never seen anyone “get over” loss in a healthy way. I guarantee you, you will never be the same because things aren’t going back to the way they were.
The goal of grief is to learn to integrate it into the beautiful tapestry of your life, to weave it into the sinews of your experience, so that you are stronger, wiser, more capable, forgiving, and understanding than you ever were before. And you can experience joy again!
My friend and author, Melissa Maimone, explains so beautifully in her book, The Radiant Midnight, that there are gifts and beauty in your dark place. Most people are way too scared to stay long enough to see it. Loss gives us a completely new perspective on life and the world. Loss allows us to get rid of inhibitions that were keeping us from living our best life. Loss is a phenomenal, albeit painful, teacher. My heart is with you as you walk this difficult journey.
You’ve got what it takes to walk through this: you’ve got grit and grace.
For more related content, start here:
How to Move On From the Loss of a Dream in a Healthy Way
Ask Dr. Zoe – How Do I Handle Crushing Grief?
Words of Encouragement From a Cancer Survivor
When Dreams Die… Grieving What Should Have Been
Your Battle Is What Makes You Beautiful
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You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: What Are the Unexpected Gifts of Depression? With Melissa Maimone – 095!