By Joyce Bruggeman
Human beings are highly complex – we embody the union of physical and non-physical aspects to make us who we are. When we suffer a devastating loss such as suicide, all of who we are is deeply impacted. Bereavement actually means “to be torn” apart. Our journey back to wholeness will include taking steps and making choice upon choice to heal our body, mind, emotions, relationships and spirit.
Taken on all at once, the task seems overwhelming and monumental, but when we break it down to smaller more manageable tasks, we can begin to take one step at a time, one day at a time, and then over time, the healing we desire takes hold in our hearts and our minds. A new life emerges and we can live in our “new normal”. But healing doesn’t just happen, we must take steps to allow it to happen: We must be intentional about how we move forward. Below are some healing steps that we can all take to keep moving forward.
Review the five areas of self-care. Are you taking care of yourself in each of these areas? Identify things that you can add to what you are already doing for yourself. Don’t discount the small steps you are taking, because step by step, one day at a time, over time healing happens.
When you are tempted to think that the tiny steps you are taking each day won’t get you where you want to be, I ask you to consider the ant. Have you ever watched an ant in an ant farm? One by one, they carry one tiny grain of sand from one end of the terrarium to the other. In fact, the activity of any single ant seems to have little impact. Even more, that single grain of sand, seems inconsequential to what is forming in their little world. But step a way for a period of time, and come back. You will see that the ants have built an entire city. Complete with a complex network of tunnels, hills and valleys. If you didn’t know better, you would assume a team of architects and construction crews had been at work for months which all kinds of equipment. The truth is that their new home was built together, one grain of sand at a time, day by day, over time.[i]
Healing happens, but not all at once, and not in isolation. Taking one step at a time, one day at a time, over time and in community, we heal. When your grief threatens to overwhelm you, or you get discouraged that things aren’t happening as quickly as you hoped, I encourage you to “Act Like an Ant”. When you are tempted to judge how you are doing by the end goal, focus instead on all the small things you are doing to heal after the suicide. Keep doing the small things day in and day out, until your healing happens, and you create your own “new normal” life.
[i]Taken from Dr. Henry Cloud, 9 Things You simply MUST DO to Succeed in Love and Life. Brentwood, Tennessee: Integrity Publishers, 2004, pages 120-122.