I received these flowers this week from a close friend. They meant a lot to me after suffering from a personal tragedy. They helped me to realize that I was loved and cared about and the note included told me of Heavenly Father's love and concern for me as well. The circumstance I found myself in caused me to reflect on many things--the power of the atonement, the Savior's love for me, my own personal testimony, and the feelings associated with heartbreak.
My first reaction was, why me? I felt the trial was being forced upon me and I had no choice. I was devastated and didn't understand how the world could go on and the lives of those around me seemed unchanged. Didn't they realize what had happened? Couldn't they see how much I was hurting?
After a full day and night of tears, I felt empty--I didn't know how I could go on. Through much personal reflection, I realized I was more than hurt. I was angry. Following sincere prayer, imploring the Lord to take away the anger, I began to feel a small measure of peace. Although still on the edge of tears the next day, I stayed close to the Lord and focused on being positive and started to feel a little better.
When difficulties arise, it is normal to go through many stages of emotion. In the field of psychology these have been titled, "The Stages of Grief." They are often divided into five stages:
1. Denial -- this stage is a temporary defense to protect you from hurting.
2. Anger-- this stage begins when you realize denial can't continue. Because of anger, you may be difficult to talk to or reason with. It is not uncommon to wonder how life can go on around you as if nothing happened.
3. Bargaining-- this stage includes desperately trying to delay or change the circumstance by imploring to a higher power.
4. Depression-- this stage sets in when you realize the circumstances cannot be changed. Because of this you may become silent, want to be alone, and spend time crying and grieving. This is an important stage of grief that must be processed.
5. Acceptance-- this stage is accompanied by peace and understanding and a desire to make the best of a difficult situation.
These stages apply to anyone suffering from many types of personal loss. All of the steps are not necessarily experienced, nor do they always come in the order listed. It is common to switch back and forth between the steps--returning to one or more of them before working through it. People experiencing grief should not force the process. Grief is highly personal and you should allow yourself the time to feel and then healing will ultimately follow as the stage of "acceptance" is reached.
Everything we experience in this life is for our learning and growth. When tragedy comes our way, we need to ask the question, what would the Lord have me learn?
This life is meant to be a time of careful preparation. We should welcome trials and challenges that humble us and turn our hearts to the Savior. Sustain hope through tragedy and stand firm in difficult times. The things we learn through our trials will help build a foundation of faith that will benefit us in perilous times ahead. Remember the source of power is God, and turn to him.
I feel like I'm at a point in life where a strong wind will blow me over. My initial reaction of "why me," did nothing but make me wallow in my suffering. By changing that question to, "what does the Lord want me to learn" and staying positive, my perspective has been altered. I can see the benefits of the trial I've been forced to bear and I'm determined that at the end of the day, I'll still be standing.
For more ideas on dealing with grief in your own life, view the following articles from LDS.org: