The last few months have been a real challenge. I’ve watched my father get sick and die from a brain tumor, I’ve had some special relationships end, a few friendship erode and disappear, and some of my work goals vanish. I take responsibility for most of it – my dad getting sick notwithstanding.
In the same period of time, I have seen some big improvements and the creation of a new future has emerged. Greater work possibilities presented themselves the day after the other ones disappeared, I was given forgiveness and allowed to complete everything in my past that was holding me in it, I became friends again with the two most challenging break-up partners I’ve had, I discovered my nature and uncovered my purpose, I got rid of most of my compulsive behaviors and I took a few huge steps towards enlightenment.
How is it possible to find such progress in a time of total upheaval? There is an approach that makes it all possible and it is relatively straight forward:
1) Understand the power of context in altering your experience of reality. I finally realized and accepted that life if meaningless. If it had meaning, most people would know it and be living it. But they aren’t. Trying to continue to live is basically the only thing that all human being do, so if you want to say that the meaning of life is to keep it going, fine. But anything more than that is a fabrication. Since it is meaningless we’re free to do whatever we want with it. Find or create your purpose, update as required and fearlessly start being it.
2) Keep your blood sugar level in an appropriate range. If this level drops too much, the prefrontal cortex will begin to shut down and logical thinking will become impaired. Once logic disappears, you are left with emotional thinking which is only concerned with keeping you alive. You’ll stay alive, but you aren’t going to be much use in recovering from loss.
3) Stop altering your consciousness with chemicals – smoke, alcohol, whatever. Your brain does its best everything when it is fueled with natural food and very few chemicals. Alcohol impairs your ability to process and assimilate information, so the grieving you do when you’re drunk (or have had a few drinks) is pointless. The lessons and realizations are lost and you just suffer; there is no plus to speak of. It doesn’t take much booze to waste the opportunity – a single glass of wine or beer is often enough to render the brain incapable doing what it does to move you through a challenging experience. If you are looking to change your life, don’t drink, smoke or get high.
4) Reduce your stress as much as you can. This means in all areas – reduce exercise, work schedule, social commitments, relationship obligations, oxidative stress associated with poor food choices and inadequate hydration and get as much sleep as you can. Your body has a finite ability to recover from stress and the loss of a loved one is tremendously draining. You will transition through this period of your life much more quickly if you focus on dealing with as few things as possible.
5) Accept that processing loss needs to happen and that it will be a lot easier to deal with sooner rather than later. People will support you a lot very early on, they tend to withdraw and assume you have an adjustment disorder if things aren’t improving after a few months – spouses and parent will take longer than friends, siblings or adult children. The key is to allocate time to recover and take it to mend.
Our species has been dealing with loss for its entire existence, so the proper coping strategies are written into our generic code. Take the time and let the body, brain and spirit do its thing. The end is near, just so long as you take the time you need to located and move towards it.