I’ve just been through one of the most challenging periods of my life. In the span of one month, I was diagnosed with a very painful, rare and chronic form of arthritis, was injured when a car ran a red light and hit my car, my father died more than 2,000 miles away and I could not travel because of my injured arm.
Sorting through the physical and emotional toll of these events will take time, but much of the immediate stress has given way to calmer days. As I emerge from the other side of the deep end, I can more strongly and loudly say that each and any of us, can endure and, indeed, conquer any of life’s tragedies. It takes, of course, God, faith, loved ones and a game plan.
Faith dwells in many tangible things at trying times. Prayer, quiet and calming, was, and is, a mainstay. Ask for strength, courage and wisdom as each event unfolds. Listen, sometimes patiently, sometimes not, as the way gets darker and the fog thicker.
The Mass, familiar and new each time, is important whether attended in person or watched on television. Keep in mind God as Father and Our Lord’s amazing love and comfort at all times. That helps stave off any anger or even bewilderment that could come with the inevitable question, “Why is all this happening now?” Hold firm to the belief in the Resurrection and that suffering is not the end and dawn will come.
In any crisis, family and friends are vital for support, insight and care. They might not be able to take away pain, but their presence is a balm that helps us endure. They are a reminder, too, that friendship and kindness are two-way streets.
Even when personal stresses are piling on, it is integral to avoid being too deeply submerged in the “deep end.”
The term “game plan” may seem frivolous juxtaposed with other, more serious aspects of coping with multiple, immediate stresses. However, it is a much-needed element in any life turned upside down.
When we’re hit by a sudden and sometimes violent loss, a physical as well as an emotional response may shake us. At first, we might seem to have enough energy and clarity for five people, let alone one, but as we dive and dip and ride along, the highs and lows can bring despair, depression and exhaustion, causing problems of their own.
A personal physician can provide insight about ways to sleep better, modify exercise and handle other hard realities. Taking action a few steps at a time can help.
Being kind to ourselves also is important. When life is beating us up, the last thing we need to do is join in the fight. Drawing on help offered by others, saying “no” when necessary and protecting privacy also are part of a positive game plan for getting through tough times.
It can take awhile for life to get back to relative normality. But as we know, with God all things are possible. We are stronger than we think we are and more blessed than we can ever fully understand.