I’ve had many devastating occurrences in my adult years. Most recently, I lost a foster child, after raising her for her first two years of life. I knew, going into fostering, the risk of getting my heart broken. But, NOTHING can prepare you for the pain of watching a child, whom you’ve mothered and nurtured from the beginning, being forced to transition out of your life.
Watching the pain our foster child, Banana, had to endure for nine months has been the most excruciating experience I’ve ever gone through. People say that I am strong…amazing…selfless. But, the truth is I cried like a baby (for nine months straight) and literally begged God to intervene. Not just because Banana didn’t want to leave, but because I have never loved another human being the way I loved (love) her. I would have given my life up for that baby girl.
So, yeah, my heart was (and still is) broken.
This wasn’t the first time. It was the worst of all of my past heartbreaks, combined. I guess you can say that I have a heartbreak protocol that I’ve learned to follow. Because, the truth is, I am not that strong. I’m not really amazing. And, I’ve had my moments of being everything but selfless.
They say there are several stages of grief. I’m coming out of the “angry” stage. For a while there, I couldn’t stand to be around anyone. I hated the fact that those who made decisions for Banana did not have to go through what she had to endure nor witness what we had to observe. My heart became full of anger. But, thanks to the grace of God and the prayers of loved ones, I am out of this stage.
There are a lot of other things that I’m doing to help with this grief process. I figured I’d share this heartbreak protocol, as I like to call it, in hopes that it may help someone who is going through his/her share of grief or heartbreak. I’ll break it down in steps:
Step One: Spend time alone.
Some people prefer being around others or keeping themselves preoccupied so they can get their minds off of what just happened. But, it can actually prevent real healing. Even though I am a blogger and very comfortable writing, making videos, etc. most people do not know that I actually gravitate towards solitude. So, it’s easy for me to say no to others and just spend time alone. Healing requires mental, emotional, and spiritual processing. I like to grab my bible and pray when I’m alone because I want to be grounded in truth. The enemy will attack us when we are broken, vulnerable, and hurt. When I’m overwhelmed with “negative thinking”, I’ll read the psalms and that helps remind me of my worth in God’s eyes.
Step Two: Be real with those you are closest to, especially God.
I never have a hard time being real. But, when it comes to asking for help or admitting the not-so-pretty areas in my life that need work, I am often tempted to just cover it up. Yet, God cannot be fooled. He knows us better than we know ourselves. So, what I like to do, is let God know that I’m hurt! Disappointed! Confused! I recently included something like this in my prayers, “God, I find it hard to believe that you have a greater plan for me and Banana after what you just allowed!” and “I just don’t feel like praying, today!” Covering up our true feelings can cause us to feel resentment. So, be real. Let out the hurt!
Step Three: Allow yourself a little wiggle room.
You may be tempted to feel sorry for yourself. To blow off everything and everyone. You may feel a little rebellious, even. The best advice I can give is to give yourself a short window for this. Don’t beat yourself up if you feel that you just wasted two weeks moping around the house. It’s normal to feel depressed and unmotivated. But, give yourself a deadline and get out of this phase sooner than later.
Step Four: Organize your life.
This does not happen right away. Most likely, you’re going to be numb and unmotivated to do anything, at first. I’ve observed that the urge to organize my life occurs somewhere during or right after the “angry” stage of grief. I’ll go through everything, from clothes to old emails and get rid of the old and organize everything I intend to hold on to. Cleaning your room, house, or car even helps to get you motivated to move forward.
Step Five: Join a support group that can relate with your pain but also motivate your recovery.
It’s so easy to find support, these days. It’s actually a poor excuse not to! You can find them on Facebook, Meetups, or your local church. Personally, when I’m around others that understand my pain it helps prevent the “self-pity” tendency. Nothing feels worse than self pity. It is seriously a dangerous attitude to hang on to. Not to mention, a support group will help hold you accountable to stay on the path to healing.
Step Six: Seek the Lord like never before!
Whether you are a Christian or not, pray! Just pray. Pray that God will reveal himself to you. You need Him now more than ever. My most beautiful experiences with the Lord occurred after a heartbreak.
The Lord is near the brokenhearted. Psalm 34:18
Step Seven: Get selfish.
The greatest heartbreaks come from loss. Losing a relationship, a loved one, a dream job, etc. When something big is removed from your life there is a void. This presents an opportunity to find something new to enjoy and appreciate. You’re going to have more time on your hands. So, fill it up with things that you love. Perhaps things that you never made time to do! I’ll plan a few weekend trips, a spa day, a special dinner with friends, etc.
Step Eight: Watch movies that will make you cry. Then just cry!
I know this sounds risky, but it should be a movie with a positive message. This past weekend, I saw the movie The Shack. I cried and cried and cried! It really hit close to home. I highly recommend this book or movie to anyone who is struggling with grief. It does have a spiritual message which is spot on, biblically. The main character, who loses his very young daughter, goes through the many stages of grief that I know all-too-well. He finds a letter in his mailbox one day inviting him to “the shack”. While there, he spends time with three individuals that represent God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He asks the tough questions that anyone dealing with grief may be asking… “Why God? If you’re so good, why did you do this? Why do bad things happen to good people?” Every answer he received was quoted from scripture. It’s a great movie. I highly recommend it to anyone who is dealing with grief.
Step Nine: Get involved with volunteer work.
After I lost my job and was diagnosed with autoimmune disease in 2012 I felt WORTHLESS. So, I decided to do volunteer work at a local women’s shelter. I spent just a few hours a week with these women at the shelter. It was incredibly rewarding and helped me to put things in perspective. There’s so much suffering going on in the world around us. If you’re feeling broken, try not to think you’re the only one broken. Instead, get out there and help someone in need or consider starting a small charity. It will definitely feel like food for your soul.
Step Ten: Learn something new.
This kinda goes with step seven. Try to take on a new hobby. Like playing an instrument, learning a foreign language, getting into astronomy, etc. Right now, I’m learning aerial yoga and doing some new things with blogging. In the past, I took on Muay Thai and ballroom dancing. Something like this will help you to have FUN, meet new people, and move on with something new in your life to talk about.
Well, that about sums it up. I hope that this protocol can help someone going through grief or a heartbreak. Feel free to share any ideas I may have missed in the comment section. Remember, God loves you, and even if you can’t get yourself to pray, ask others to pray for you or with you. In time, you will feel God’s healing hand.