During the holidays we may become especially sensitive to the losses we’ve had in our lives which can lead to grief and depression, writes Dan Hall.
Loss and change is something we all experience in life and, the older we become, the more losses we will have encountered. Those who are most resilient to loss and change in their lives have found a way to accept and embrace their losses and transform them into hope for the future.
The following principles of transforming grief and loss into hope are from a workshop on “Transforming Grief and Loss into Meaning and Hope” by Ligia M. Houben, founder of My Meaningful Life, LLC and executive director of The Center for Transforming Lives.
Principle 1: Accept your loss and come to terms with the reality of the loss.
Principle 2: Live your grief — What we ignore doesn’t cease to exist.
Principle 3: Go deeper into your spiritual dimension, including prayer, meditation, sweat or spiritual readings.
Principle 4: Express your feelings — Confide in a loving, caring person you can trust who will listen carefully and accept your emotions without judging you.
Principle 5: Share with others — Share with others your losses and reach out to help others who are experiencing similar losses and grief. Focus on helping them.
Principle 6: Take care of your body, mind and spirit
Principle 7: Use Rituals — Draw strength from your spiritual traditions. Keep a journal or make a book of remembrance about the person you love in order to treasure their teachings and the meaning of their life and the purpose that you have learned from them.
Principle 8: Live the present — The present moment is a gift to be cherished! Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t worry about the future. Live the now!
Principle 9: Modify your thoughts: In life, we experience difficult situations but everything depends on our response to them. A loss can help us treasure what is most important and meaningful in our lives. Be grateful for the time you spent together.
Principle 10: Rebuild your world — Build more meaning, purpose and hope into your life from the new understanding you have gained from the loss that you have experienced.
Principle 11: Visualize the life you want — See yourself a year or two from now contributing to your family, friends and humanity the new meaning, purpose and hope that you have gained through your loss. “Probably you do not choose to suffer, but you can choose the option to transform your suffering into a meaningful life.” (Sameet M. Kumar)
If you find that your grief exceeds your ability to cope effectively – reach out for help! It is a sign of strength and understanding to ask for help from caring family members, spiritual leaders or a trusted counselor. There are caring counselors in our community who can help transform your grief into a more meaningful life filled with hope and purpose.
If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-Talk(8255). Veterans will press “1.”
The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-398-Help(4357) – you can call or text.
The Idaho Suicide Prevention Crisis Chat is at idahosuicideprevention.org.
Hall is a social work at Fort Hall.