Take It One Day at a Time — Tips for Coping With Loss #2
This is the best advice you can get on dealing with loss. Focusing on taking one step at a time, on small daily tasks, is what can help you get through the hardest days of your life.
Major losses tend to be overwhelming. It can seem impossible to think about anything else and to envision a brighter future. You could feel paralyzed by a deep sense of devastation.
On such days (and there will be many), use the Take It One Day at a Time approach. This means that you need to focus on just getting through that one day by performing small daily tasks, such as getting up, making coffee, taking a shower, walking the dog, and focusing your full attention on each one of these small tasks as if your life depended on it.
The next day you again focus on just getting through that one day by again doing the daily tasks. This is very similar to what mountain climbers tend to do when climbing a mountain — they do not look down, and they do not look up. They just look at how to make that small next step that will bring them closer to the top, because their lives do depend on it.
If they’d look down at what is behind them, they would get dizzy and could collapse because of the depth of the abyss. If they’d look up at what is yet to come, they might feel overwhelmed by not being able to see the top and can be taken aback by the steepness of the climb. That would stop them from climbing either up or down and keep them stranded on the mountain.
They know, however, that by fully focusing on only small and manageable parts of the cliff and progressing by taking one step at a time, they can and will eventually climb that giant mountain. And that is exactly how you can overcome your grief as well.
To avoid getting stranded on the mountain of grief, focus your full attention each and every day on small tasks that need to be done and taken care of. Also, focus your attention on others in your life who are still there and need you. Be there for them, be present.
But do only as much as you can. Do not force yourself to do more than you are at the moment capable of taking on. Do only as much as you can handle and give yourself a pat on the back for achieving even just one small goal a day.
Taking life one day at a time and focusing on taking one step at a time is a form of mindfulness meditation. By doing it regularly, you will bring healing to your life. In time, you will become able to climb that mountain of grief with this approach. Even if that seems impossible now, I can promise you that.
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Mateja graduated summa cum laude in psychology from Arizona State University and is now a grief counselor at Transform the Pain. She previously worked as a journalist and psychologist. She has been through several losses herself and had also survived a few brushes with death.