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One of the many beauties of life is that life is unpredictable.
This is undoubtedly true in both our personal and professional lives. Whether it is due to chance, a higher power, or something else, life is anything but certain.
Moreover, the unpredictability goes both ways. A chance cold call can lead to an incredible business opportunity for our company. That man or woman who we meet at the bar may end up being our future spouse. On the other hand, taking that single step into the crosswalk could mean a serious injury (or worse) from a vehicle unexpectedly running a red light.
Yet the fact that life is unpredictable doesn’t stop us from feeling that the negative uncertainties won’t happen to us. We observe others going through grief or sadness, and whether it is on a conscious or subconscious level, it’s easy to think that we won’t experience such acute and unexpected grief.
It can be shocking when these life-changing events occur—the grief can be overwhelming. However, even in life’s darkest moments, there are steps we can take to address the scars of grief.
These steps are part of what I call the “Seven Stages of Grief Alignment Challenge.” Ultimately, it is an updated manifestation of living with intent after life’s unexpected occurrences. Whether we are experiencing intense grief for the first time or are struggling to navigate through an unexpected tragedy, this challenge can help ease our pain.
The challenge is comprised of several practices that we can embrace throughout our week. These practices are designed to target both our physical and mental health so that we can live with intent after a traumatic event.
While it may not be easy, proceeding through this seven-day challenge will help ease our grief during difficult times:
On day one, we will focus on “expressing.”
By expressing, I mean vocalizing the thoughts that have been circulating in our heads. If we have recently experienced an unexpected traumatic event, it’s almost a certainty that our mind is racing. We may be experiencing feelings of shock, sadness, panic, or even nothing at all.
No matter what we are feeling, it is critical to get our feelings outside our head. Expressing them by speaking with a family member or a close friend is an effective way to start the healing process. If we aren’t comfortable speaking with any close family members or friends, we can even express our feelings in a diary or journal.
Ultimately, expressing our feelings about the unexpected event goes a long way in helping us heal.
On day two, we will want to meditate.
The good news is that we don’t need to be an expert in meditation to get value from day two. We don’t even need any prior experience or practice. Instead, all we need to do is sit down in a quiet place and close our eyes. We can solely focus on our breath or let our mind actively wander.
However we go about it, focus on the feelings themselves. Don’t judge or reject the feelings that we’re experiencing. Sitting quietly and meditating can help us feel calm in these difficult times. While it isn’t going to immediately cure all of our grief, it is an important part of making us live with intent after our trauma subsides.
On day three, we will want to be present.
It is an extension of our meditation practice on day two. Essentially, being present means that we are becoming comfortable with our vulnerability. Even though it may seem scary, being present and sitting with our feelings—however raw—advances the grieving process.
It makes our body and mind understand that we are going through a traumatic experience, no matter how painful that will be. By contrast, not being present delays the process and causes more trauma and pain.
On day four, you will need to rejuvenate.
In other words, we are going to spend day four taking care of ourselves. This can mean different things for many people. For instance, we may choose to go outdoors and take a long hike in the woods. If that doesn’t sound appealing, we may opt for a spa day.
Whatever it is, rejuvenation is about recharging our mind and body. We are blocking off an entire day to directly address the intense pain—both physical and mental—from experiencing an unexpected traumatic event.
On day five, we will want to awaken.
This day of awakening is focused on noticing the truly beautiful and positive things that still remain in life. If we have lost a loved one or suffered a serious injury, it may seem like life will never be the same. This period of awakening, however, helps us recognize that there are many beautiful and inspiring things happening in the world.
Whether it is a rainbow that we see outside our window or a butterfly that flies near us on our morning walk, noticing and appreciating life’s natural beauty can help us awaken to our new normal.
On day six, we will connect with others.
While many of us grieve in different ways, it can be all too easy to be isolated or alone when grieving. After all, it may seem like no one can understand the pain and suffering that we are experiencing.
Day six is about fighting that urge to be isolated and connect with friends and family. When doing so, there’s no need to stick to any script or agenda. Go ahead and discuss the things that we want to discuss. We also don’t need to spend a certain amount of time connecting.
The ultimate goal is to rekindle those bonds and simply connect with the people who love us the most.
On day seven, we will want to eat healthy.
When dealing with an unexpected traumatic event, it’s almost natural to adopt poor eating habits. It is a way to cope with the grief and sadness that we are experiencing. However, on the seventh day, I challenge you to improve your diet.
Let’s work on cutting out some of the bad eating habits that we’ve picked up and replace them with healthier options. Clearly, making dramatic changes to our diet isn’t going to happen overnight.
That being said, taking strong and proactive action on the seventh day is an outstanding investment in our physical and mental health.
Taking positive steps today
The “Seven Stages of Alignment” is an outstanding process that can help us live with intent after unexpected trauma. Some of the stages may be more appealing to us than others.
If we have been relying on friends and family to get us through these troubling times, day six (connect with others) may be redundant. That being said, I encourage you to stick to the schedule. Even if we aren’t feeling motivated, staying disciplined can make the process much easier.
Ultimately, there are many people who love us during these difficult times. While our grief may seem like it will never end, rest assured that it isn’t permanent.
This challenge can help us recognize this fact. In the end, the best time to get started is today.