At some point in our lives we all experience loss. It may be the end of a relationship, being let go from a job, losing a home, or the death of a loved one. Living through a pandemic comes with a lot of losses – upheavals to our routine, cancelled events, milestones we've missed. It's natural to grieve all these things.
By looking for opportunity in adversity or finding ways to remember the good things about who or what we’ve lost, we can help ourselves to recover mentally and emotionally.
Mental Health America offers these 7 tips for finding the positive after a loss as part of its Mental Health Month #Tools2Thrive campaign.
1. Try to see your experience as strength. When bad things happen they can be painful to go through, but as you continue to live your life without the person, thing, or situation you once had, you become a stronger person. Going through a loss and learning to carry on helps give you the skills to deal with tough situations in the future.
2. Look for opportunity amid adversity. Sometimes loss opens us up to new possibilities. You may feel guilty or selfish at first for exploring these thoughts, but there is nothing wrong with looking for ways to improve or change your life after something tragic has happened. The end of a romantic relationship or death of someone that you had been caring for may free you up to spend more time with friends or pursue interests that you’ve been putting on the back burner. If you’ve lost your home to disaster, you might consider relocating to that place you’ve always dreamed of living.
3. Learn from others. You are not alone! There may be support groups in your community to help you get through whatever loss or tragedy you’ve gone through. If you’re not ready to talk about things face-to-face or can’t find the right kind of support group, the internet is full of places where people gather online to talk about their shared experiences. Share your story. Ask questions about how other people got through tough times to remind yourself that if they can do it, you can do it, too.
4. Remember the good times. When you’ve lost something you love, it is almost automatic to focus on the pain that you are feeling about your loss. By remembering the good times you had in a certain place, with a pet, or with a person, you’re practicing gratitude for having had those experiences. It can be even more helpful to have someone else who is sharing your loss join you in reminiscing. Maybe you’ll even be able to share a laugh together.
5. Do what makes you happy. Pampering yourself can help you remember how to feel good after dealing with a negative or tragic situation, and bring you back to a place where you can appreciate all the positive things that life has to offer. You might choose to do something exciting or something relaxing – it’s all about doing whatever you love.
6. Find ways to honor your loss. By memorializing the loss of a loved one, you help keep their memory alive. You may choose to create a fundraiser for a special cause in their name, plant a tree in one of their favorite places, hang their pictures in your home, create a memorial web page or Facebook page, do some of the activities they enjoyed, or even get a tattoo that reminds you of them.
7. Don’t be afraid to get help. It’s perfectly normal to have trouble adjusting to life after something bad has happened to you, but if you find it’s been weeks or months and you can’t seem to function or just don’t know what to do to feel better, it’s time to get help. Ask your employer if they provide an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or contact The Village location closest to you.