The Before & The After

Some of the most life-changing things occur so suddenly – out of the blue there is a drastic turn of events and things are instantly not what they were before. The separation is created: what was before, and what came after. These life altering events are not planned. Rather, they come on an otherwise subdued Tuesday evening.

We are quite suddenly faced with, well – what do we do with these sudden changes? How do we make sense with such little warning that our lives will never be the same? Do we cry, scream, beg, deny? Do we shut out the world or welcome in the spectators, supportive as they may be, who cannot help but to remain on the outside despite their best intentions?

person holding brown card

There is no right or wrong; there are no rules in processing major change.

There are no right or wrong answers, and processing grief or loss is extremely personal. I am fascinated (and equally saddened) by the types of loss or change that create a “before” and “after”. Perhaps this is because I have been fortunate to have had so few in life thus far, and my knowledge of dealing with them is very minimal compared to some. However, I have had one of these experiences recently and have had some time to reflect on the entire process of change.

Overall, I have a few general thoughts. I am amazed at how resilient we are as a whole. The incredible blows that I have witnessed those around me deal with surely would have knocked me down for the count, and yet these people rise again to another day. Sometimes determined to smile despite the pain they endure.

I am convinced that the way to process these events is however that looks for the individual, and it will not match up to what people think you should or should not be doing. Perspective is important, but it will be grasped later and only when the person is ready. There is no need to feel guilty for your loss just because someone else has it worse off than you do. Indulge the pain, allow yourself to grieve, and process those emotions because you are so very entitled to feel them. It is necessary. Perspective comes later and will help you to move on – but only when you are ready to do so. Forcing this process is not negotiable. Getting help when you need it (in any form) is not weakness.

people taking group photo

Service gets you out of your own head, when you are ready.

Finally, I am inspired by those who do not mask their suffering, but who face the world each day despite their struggle, and share what they have learned in their own path to better those around them. I really feel that after processing a huge change in their own unique way, people fare better when they focus on what they can do for others. Service to others is really a great way that I have witnessed to help heal an unimaginable pain. It can be small or large, and for those we love or strangers we have never met. Either way, centering our focus on helping others provides its own therapy and benefits. This is my own opinion, and I am not a therapist by any means. I am only able to speak on what I have witnessed and reflect on my own thoughts during a recent difficult time.

No matter how much we wish it to be, life ain’t always beautiful, folks. Life can be grimy, heart-breaking, and exhausting. Sometimes really bad things happen to the people we love and we are faced with how to process these occurrences and move beyond the “before” and into the “after”. Sometimes we don’t quite know the right way to do that. If you find yourself on this corner of the unknown, you are not alone. There are resources to help you on this journey if you need them, but you must seek out help and let others help you. While we may never be able to turn back time to the “before”, there is still and always will be hope in the “after”. Even joy. It will be different, it will take time – but joy is always possible.

photo of woman basking in the sun

Joy is always possible. We can create it.

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