Just as everyone grieves differently, what will help one person to recover, may not be as helpful for someone else. Keep trying things until you find something that helps where you're at this point in time.
One of the things that really comforted me when I was grieving, was to see the word "hope" in various places. Every time I saw that word, it was like someone was throwing me a life line. It was like God was telling me to "hold on, there is hope." So I found little things that had that word on it and I put it up around our home. I posted encouraging scriptures in my bathroom, on the fridge, hanging in the hallway. I wore scripture jewelry and a necklace with the word "hope" on it. I found it very helpful to fill my heart and mind with the promises of God. There is a scripture that I would repeat to myself over and over when I would find myself dwelling on all the bad stuff that had happened and all that we were going through. Philippians 4:8-9 says...Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
It was like exercising a muscle. I'd have to keep repeating this to myself over and over throughout the day, but slowly I'd find myself meditating more on the things that were good, instead of the bad and that helped so much. This goes along with having an "attitude of gratitude." When you are busy counting your blessings, you can't be as sad.
I had always known of the Serenity Prayer. Truthfully, it never really meant much to me... until I experienced such dark days after my husband left. For what seemed like the first time in my life, everything was truly out of my control and I understood the prayer for the first time. To rage against things I could not change was not helpful. To wish for things to be different didn't make them different. I had to learn to accept what was and realize that I was in that "new reality" that I've talked about before. I try to encourage people with this thought... We may not have control over our circumstances, but we do have control over our reaction to those circumstances. We can choose to find happiness and joy despite our trials and grief. We can choose to not be defeated by adversity. The Bible says in Romans 8:37 "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." This is a promise. Yes, we will grieve and suffer loss, but we can overcome everything through the Lord!
Another thing I did that helped metremendously was I read books... A LOT!! I read countless books that all dealt with the subjects we were dealing with. I just tried to keep my mind focused on healthy, positive influences. I read books by people with inspirational stories about overcoming. Doing this helped me immensely.
I tried to make our home as peaceful as possible. I burned vanilla scented candles as that is a soothing, calming, scent in aromatherapy. I played peaceful, soothing music. I purchased a water fountain as that was a calming sound for both my son and I. We watched comedies together as often as we could. The Bible says in Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. To be able to laugh even for a little while was such a relief.
I have one thing to say that people might find controversial. This helped me, so I am going to share it. My son was on antidepressants as part of his medical issues. To help him cope, his dosage needed to be upped many times during the first few years after his dad left. There came a time when talking to my son's doctor, that we decided that antidepressants would help me to cope better as well. My plate was overflowing and I found myself crying almost constantly, despite all I was doing to help myself. The medication helped me immensely. It didn't take the sadness away, but it did help me to function better. I was only on them for a short period of time and then got off of them. Some people are afraid of this type of medication. Some people think if they start them, they'll never get off of it. Others think it shows a sign of weakness. I tell people when they ask, it is something for them to pray about and ask their doctor about. I am not a doctor and each person has their own unique physical and medical needs to consider. My son has a doctor that prescribes natural things along with prescription medications. My son is able to take a very low dose of Zoloft because he takes natural supplements called Sam-e and GABA. You should consult your doctor to see if these could be helpful for you and if so what dosage amount. I don't recommend just self prescribing or medicating! I am just mentioning it for those people who do not know that there are natural alternatives to some prescription medications and antidepressants.
Healing is a process and a journey. You will hopefully find that people are supportive and encouraging as you are grieving. I found a lot of people however, did not understand. One woman told me after six months that I should be "over it already." She meant well, but was totally clueless. I also found other people are just ill equipped to handle situations that aren't resolved quickly or can't be tied up in neat little packages. If you find yourself in that situation, then you also might be grieving the fact that your friends are not there for you like you thought they would or should be. Pray for your friends. Show them info. to help educate them about grief. If they still don't respond in a comforting way, then ask the Lord to heal your hurt and disappointment and seek out new friends. It's important to surround yourself while you are hurting with people who will build you up and support you and not tear you down or make you feel worse.
If you're like me, when you're down you just want to close the blinds, shut the door and hide from the world. Sometimes, you just have to force yourself to get out and help yourself. Try seeking out support groups. Maybe you will make new friends that can relate to what you're going through. In an effort to make friends for my son we joined several home school groups. We joined a Star Wars fan group. Think outside the box if you have to. When you don't feel like taking steps to help yourself, is usually when you need to the most!
The only other big piece of advice I can speak to is what I found helped me the most. I turned to God like I never had before. I prayed constantly and fed upon his word by reading or listening to sermons. With some people, their first inclination is to be mad at God and turn away from Him. If you are angry, take your anger to God. He knows it's there anyway. Tell him about your anger, your hurt, your sadness, your pain. He will minister to you in the most amazing ways.
Here are some other helpful tips...
- Go gently -- take whatever time you need, rather than giving yourself a deadline for when you think you should be over your grief
- Expect and accept that you will not be yourself when it comes to thinking clearly, having the same energy, etc.;
- Try to avoid taking on new responsibilities or making major life decisions for a time;
- Talk regularly about your grief and your memories with someone you trust;
- Accept help and support when offered;
- Taking care of yourself by eating healthy foods and getting sleep is really important to recovery;
- Exercise moderately and regularly;
- Keep a joy/gratitude journal;
- Tell those around you what helps you and what doesn't. Most people would like to help if they knew how;
- Take warm, leisurely baths;
- See a counselor;
- Massages can be helpful;
- Choose your entertainment carefully—some movies, TV shows, or books can intensify already strong feelings;
- Join a support group—there are hundreds of such groups and people have a wonderful capacity to help each other;
- Plan for 'special days' such as holidays or anniversaries. Feelings can be particularly intense at these times;
- Connect on the Internet. There are many resources for people in grief, as well as opportunities to chat with fellow grievers;
- Vent your anger in healthy ways, rather than holding it in. ;
- Speak to a spiritual leader;
- Plant yourself in nature;
- Do something to help someone else;
- Write down your lessons. Healthy grieving will have much to teach you.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP YOU THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS:
1. Plan Ahead: Spend some time figuringout how to help yourselfduring this time. Come up with restorative routines such as reading or napping and write them on the calendar. Figure out what basics are going to get you through the holidays and make them a priority.
2. Avoid Family Conflicts: If you know there are going to be conflicts, prepare a neutral response such as "Let's talk about that another time". Then escape to the bathroom, go help in the kitchen, play with the kids, etc.
3. Forget Perfection: Figure out the things that make you and your family happy and focus on those things. Include focusing on the less fortunate. When you take your eyes off of yourself and focus on those who have far less than you do, it helps you to realize all that you have to be grateful for.
4. Schedule Sleep: Try to stick to a sleep routine. It's easy to say "I have too much to do" and then get too little sleep. This will only magnify all the feelings of grief. Avoid heavy meals and lots activity a few hours before bedtime. Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary free from t.v and other sleep distractions.
5. You can have multiple feelings all at once. It's okay. You might feel angry for your loss, you might feel guilty for having fun. Feelings are just feelings and they show where you are in the healing process.
6. Have Support. Whether it be one friend or a regular support group, you need people. If you're feeling overwhelmed if there is someone that knows your situation and can help you either with physical things or just lend an ear, learning how to ask for help is important.
7. Take care of yourself. The more stress you are under the more you feel it physically and mentally. Try to exercise and eat right. Have an outlet for your stress. Many are overindulging with sweets and fatty meals this time of year, which will not help how you feel and cope. Take all things into consideration and do what you can to help yourself in this area...but don't let this just become another area of stress when you don't fulfill the goals you set for yourself.
8. Consider your light exposure. Some people have what is called SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. The symptoms are you become consistently irritable or sad during the winter months. A walk in the sunlight can help as will 30 minutes a day with a light box which simulates exposure to the sun. If you think this might be a possibility, then speak to your doctor.
9. If money is an issue and it is causing you stress and grief, focus on the things that are important. Fianancial woes can make you lose sight of that, but do what you can to help yourself...make gifts, talk to others and explain your situation, do gift exchanges etc...do what you can and then let it go to the best of your abilities. Most people have been in this position at least once in their lives. I think you'll be surprised at how understanding people can be. If they are not and an adult doesn't understand, well that's a pretty telling thing about them & not you. If you need help providing for your child, seek out help from family, friends, churches. Many people are looking for someone to help during the holidays that is need. There is no shame in asking for help.