Articles for the Month of June 2015

Finding Courage when in Crisis


There are some things that happen in life that we may never fully make sense of and that may cause a wound so deep it never truly heals. I do believe we can find meaning in tragedies and time can lessen pain, I do believe in recovery after trauma, thank god for that. However there are some things in life which leave a mark on our hearts and an ache in our souls that we may just need to learn to live with.

I think this is important to say and to address head on, because learning to cope and live through pain is hard and also necessary.

I’ve experienced a number of losses in my life and each one has effected me in a different way. With some, like the sudden death of my grandmother I just needed to get through some waves of emotion in order to feel peace. Other’s such as realizing I was not given the right supports to heal from mental illness early in life and the loss of years to illness and horrible side effects of medications is a trauma I may never fully recover from. My husband’s loss of his first child and the loss of her mother by suicide is another example of a trauma that does not seem to fully fade or become resolved. These are personal examples of pain we learn to live with.

I am an idealist and a romantic so this concept of pain that we have to live with has been very difficult for me to embrace. I am always looking for the fairy tale endings. Maybe that has helped me to cope sometimes as well. Its good strive for positive outcomes. But I can attest its made me resist reality many times. Sometimes it just seems too harsh and ugly.

Maybe you are facing a similar challenge? Maybe you are contemplating or have contemplated ending your life because life just seems too harsh? The problems are too over whelming? The pain is too intense? Things just aren’t how they are supposed to be…

I think more people than we realize get to that point at one time or another and then the question arises,.. how am I ever going to get through this?

And that’s where in the midsts of all the pain we face we may also encounter friends, family, even professionals trying to help us who say things like “time heals all wounds” or “just pull yourself up by your bootstraps” or they launch into giving us advice to solve the problem at hand. Good intentions, not always helpful though.

I think sometimes we need a different kind of medicine when we face the really tough losses in life. Not a pep talk, not unsolicited advice, sometimes we need an ocean of acceptance. A big wide enormous container of life that has existed for eons that has seen tragedies upon tragedies come and go, and yet keeps flowing. We are made up of water too, over 70% and sometimes we just need to flow.

I have a friend who used to say to me often “nothing needs to happen.” What a crazy statement. When we are in pain especially, it usually feels like something sure does need to happen to stop the pain and fast. What a difficult statement to accept at such times, “nothing needs to happen…” And yet something about it feels right even though it is so damn uncomfortable.

That same friend introduced me a lecture from a man named Martin Prechtel called Grief and Praise and in that lecture there was another statement which was meaningful to me which was in essence “There’s no solution to grief, you just have to let it roll.”

That is hard to accept. Pain is hard to accept. But god does it feel better to accept it than to constantly be trying to hide from it or fight it.

I believe we do need to hope, to dream, to strive for happiness and to work towards recovery after loss and trauma. Action is necessary but not at the expense of acceptance and taking time to just feel and experience our emotions and circumstances. And its important to know that feeling the pain of a loss and a trauma is not a one time occurrence. Its normal to face pain from devastating events many times in life, and in many difference ways. And its okay. In fact its more than okay. Its to be expected. Life includes pain.

So again that question may be coming to mind, but how, how do we go on? And the answer, sometimes, is you just do. You adapt. You pray, you cry, you scream, you write, you sing, you talk, you do what ever feels natural as you face your tragedy and most likely, you also grow stronger in the process. It may not feel good. That’s okay too.

Perhaps one of the most useful analogies I can think of about facing great pain, loss and trauma is that of a man who suddenly goes blind and has to start to rely on all his other senses. He will always miss having sight, it may never change that he cannot see. His life had been irrevocably changed. He may always feel sad about it, but he will also learn to enjoy life in new ways. He will become a stronger person, perhaps even an inspirational person,… His loss of sight would not determine whether he is happy or not for the rest of his life or his ability to be successful, however it will have changes the course of his life forever. And he will need to accept what has happened and find courage to adapt to the changes. It will not be easy, but life will go on, one moment, one breathe, one day at a time. And each moment like each wave of the ocean brings forward new life.

I wanted to write about this topic today because accepting pain is something I have struggled with often and I know there are many others out there in the same boat. I have found that its harder to fight or repress pain. I hope if you are facing some big issues and pain in your life you will find some consolation in this post and perhaps a healthy dose of ‘un sugar coated’ reality that offers a sense of relief. You don’t need to fight or even resolve your grief. Sometimes you just have to let it flow.

Meaghan Beattie