My friend, Dawn, died today. It was cancer. Brain, breast, bone, and lung cancer took this beautiful wife, mother, teacher, and friend, and I am so very sad. She suffered from this disease for seven years and was in remission twice, but it finally won. I know the sadness I feel isn’t even a drop in the bucket compared to what her husband and young daughters now must face. This experience will forever change them and the emotional roller coaster they will ride will be challenging to say the least.
Emotions aren’t always fair to us. They treat us with little regard to where we are or who is with us, oftentimes causing us to blurt out angry statements in front of people we love or begin crying in the middle of a busy intersection as we’re trying to make a left-hand turn. Emotions tend to have their way with us when we’re hurting.
If you’re someone who has experienced the devastation of divorce or death of a spouse, I know you’ve been through this. You understand how one small thing like a hearing a song, finding an old picture or seeing someone who resembles the one you lost can send you plummeting to the depths of heartache. If you have those bad days that make you feel like you’ve been flattened by a steam roller and that painful fog takes over your mind and heart, there are some important things you can do to get through them gracefully and even help them become fewer and farther in between in the future:
1. Give yourself permission to feel the way you’re feeling. This is important because so many people try not to feel them. They push them away in an attempt to be in control, but this has an explosive nature because sooner or later, they will take over. However, if you allow yourself to feel sad, angry, lonely or whatever is plaguing you and don’t fight it, the emotion will pass sooner, faster, and you will survive it.
2. Manage your emotions, don’t let them manage you. It is okay to schedule time to deal with your emotions. If your bad day hits while you’re at work, for example, and you don’t have the luxury of being alone, promise yourself that you will give yourself time to address your grief during break time, on your lunch hour, or after work. But the most important thing is that you make yourself that promise. This helps you continue with work as you need to and know you will have appropriate time for yourself. A fantastic place to do this is at a Eucharistic Adoration chapel, if you have access to one, or even sitting near the tabernacle in church as you sort through these feelings.
3. Pray as you go. Frequently, suffering makes praying dry and difficult and it’s often the first thing to be dropped from your daily routine. But you don’t have to pray a Rosary or novena to communicate with God. Just talk to Him. When it hurts, talk to Him about what you’re going through in silent prayer. Ask Him the questions you want answers to as they pop into your mind. Little conversations with God like this is being prayerful and keeping you tethered to Him. He knows your heartache better than anyone and the fact that you struggle to be patient, responsible and civil to others despite your suffering is very pleasing to Him. You can also offer it all up for an intention like the souls in Purgatory. He will pour graces down upon you that will strengthen you.
To help you with this last point, here is a prayer I find especially helpful during times of suffering:
Come Holy Spirit!
Replace the tension within us with a holy relaxation.
Replace the turbulence within us with a sacred calm.
Replace the anxiety within us with a quiet confidence.
Replace the fear within us with a strong faith.
Replace the bitterness within us with a sweetness of grace.
Replace the darkness within us with a gentle light.
Replace the coldness within us with a loving warmth.
Replace the night within us with your light.
Straighten our crookedness, fill our emptiness.
Dull the edge of our pride, sharpen the edge of our humility.
Light the fires of our love, quench the flames of our lust.
Let us see ourselves as you see us, that we may see you as you have promised and be fortunate according to your word:
“Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God (Mt. 5:8).
As always, count on my prayers for you and your intentions and feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @lisaduffy.