Finding Joy after Loss


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The ups and downs of life are a constant.  The challenge I find for people is the ability to experience the joys of life after being confronted with the myriad of loss that life brings. Below are some suggested approaches to finding Joy after Loss.  The suggestions range from expressing one’s feelings to working towards perspective.  All of these suggestions require an inner strength and resolve to integrate the loss into the fabric of one’s life and one’s story and are instant means of success.

How to Get Back Your Joy After Loss

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” – Jalaluddin Rumi

My belief is that you invest joy in yourself. No one can take it with them when they leave.

When you live in joy, finding appreciation in the seemingly trivial things in life, the quiet moments you share with others, in your accomplishments, pursuing your dreams, making full use of your talents and abilities, you grow your self-confidence, boost your self-esteem, and realize that you are whole and complete as you are.

This is joy and vibrancy in living.

But what do you do when you’ve already invested heavily in finding joy with someone other than yourself and they leave, either through death, fractured relationship, marital breakup, or separated by time and distance? Are you destined to remain bereft, lost, depressed, without purpose forever? What can you do to alleviate these powerful emotions and get back in resonance with yourself?

First, find someone you can talk honestly with about your feelings

This may be a loved one, a close friend, a spiritual advisor, a counselor or therapist. If you are seriously depressed after the joy source of your life leaves, professional counseling with a psychologist or psychotherapist may be the wisest initial choice.

What you’ll learn rather quickly is that you are not alone in these types of feelings. Being lost, without direction, lacking the desire or ability to smile and be present in the moment is a painful experience that many people have dealt with. I’ve lost both biological parents to death, along with a stepfather, a sibling, two aunts and four grandparents.

While each person experiences grief and loss differently, they must go through the various stages of grieving to move on. Sometimes they can’t do it on their own. Unresolved grief or protracted grief requires professional help. When in the depths of sadness and grief over loss it can seem impossible that joy can ever return. It can, although it will require time.

Second, be grateful for all the things that you have

This includes your health, a home, a job or career you find satisfying, good friends, money in the bank, the ability to travel, hobbies or recreational pursuits you enjoy. Besides being the things that most people would consider among the sources of success, they’re also hallmarks of a joyful and productive life. While you may be in the throes of some emotional pain and loss now, expressing your gratitude for the good things you have in life will help center you and firm up your foundation.

Third, start making plans

What do you most enjoy doing? Make a plan that includes that activity. Do you have a desire to travel? Start mapping out destinations and gathering information on the area. Is there a skill, hobby or recreational activity you want to learn? Are you interested in going back to finish a degree or obtain an additional one?

Telling yourself that you don’t have time, money, ability or anyone to do activities with is only an excuse to continue allowing your life to be joyless and unproductive. The only way you experience anything memorable and rewarding is to take proactive steps. Figure out what it is you want to do or explore or tackle, and make plans you can follow to achieve the outcome you desire. There’s a lot of joy inherent in being involved in pursuits and activities that help fulfill your life.

Fourth, get out there

Holing up at home won’t do anything to lift your mood. You need to be with people, even though that may be the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling depressed or anxious, attempting to get over a breakup, or suffering other emotional, financial, physical or social loss.

The fact is that when you’re with others, you are less likely to be consumed with sadness and negative thoughts. Overcoming this deficit requires that you get out there and willingly interact with others. Not only will this help you to partially fill the void, it also returns a measure of control to your life. Instead of always reacting, you are being proactive.

As for overall healing, only time will do that.

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