Whenever we suffer, there are three places in which our minds can go or three suffering triggers. These three triggers or emotions can make the situation feel worse almost immediately. It is these three emotions and fears that make your grief and depression feel like they are spiralling out of control - Loss, Less and Never. Although you cannot replace your loved one or whatever it is you have lost, such as a beloved pet, a job you worked hard for or a long-term relationship, you can learn how to combat the three triggers of suffering.
Loss: This is the first suffering trigger. When you begin focusing on the absence of someone in your life, you start developing depression from loss. You are not only thinking about the loss of a close friend or family member, but you become fixated on lost opportunities (with them) - you are losing out on making future memories and you have lost the opportunity to tell that person how you really feel about them. By focusing on the negatives, it is easy to let your mind stagnate. What if, instead, you thought about all the good times you had with the person you lost? Instead of reeling over all the things you will not get to do with them anymore, why not try focusing on all the beautiful, joyful experiences you were able to share together? This taps into the mentality of believing that life is happening for you, not to you. You are in charge of dictating your emotions and mental state. Although some circumstances, like death, are outside of your control, you are capable of taking that negative experience and viewing it in a different way. Everyone has experiences in life that cause him or her to suffer. What matters is how you handle these intense moments of pain - do you use the loss as a starting point to become a stronger, more resilient person, or do you let your grief consume you?
The second trigger of suffering is believing that you are or have less. As you are recovering from grief, perhaps you believe that you are less complete without your loved one in your life. Maybe your passion for life and living is less because you no longer have a mother, spouse or close friend. When you feed into this mentality, it only prolongs your suffering.
You might also feel that your days will be “less” now that someone you love has passed away or gone out of your life - less joy, less love and less adventure. Realise that such negative thoughts are only temporary. No matter how painful your situation feels right now, your life will go on. You will find happiness again and you will continue growing. In order to do such things, however, you have to accept that you are not less and you are complete entirely on your own. Decide to end your suffering by stopping these limiting thoughts as they arise.
The third trigger of suffering is the most damaging. It is buying into the idea of Never - you will never get over your feelings of grief and depression, you will never meet someone who makes you feel the way your loved one did, you will never have a dog as loyal and sweet, you will never get another job at the same level. Are these thoughts helping anything? No. They are making you feel infinitely worse about what is happening. You are relinquishing your sense of self to damaging and limiting beliefs. It is time to take control of your story again. Getting over death is not a process that happens overnight, but you have to help yourself by learning to step away from suffering triggers.
Now that you know about the three triggers of suffering, it is time to learn how to cope with them. Acknowledge what you are feeling and realise the emotion does not need to be permanent. Then, make the decision to end the negative thoughts. Buying into the notions of loss, less and never will only make it harder to manage your grief.
Choose to end suffering as you are confronted by it. Decide that you want to feel joyful each day, existing in a beautiful state, instead of living in pain. You are dealing with something devastating right now, but guess what, you are going to face more loss in your life and that is the reality we face as humans. By learning how to deal with the overwhelming feelings of bereavement early on, and trying to turn these damaging experiences into something more positive, you will be able to master your emotions in the future. Remember, with support, patience and effort, you will survive grief. Someday the pain will lessen, leaving you with cherished memories of your loved one.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided in this article, is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
Port of Spain, Trinidad