All major storms have some kind of aftermath. Sometimes, it's flooding or piles of rubble. Other times, it's just a few broken branches in the street & water flowing through the gutters. But, I can't think of a time I've ever seen a storm come & go without there being evidence of its severity once it's gone. Can you? Dealing with the aftermath of life's storms isn't so different.
Not quite two months ago, my dear grandmother passed away. She had lived with us for almost two years & the last year of her life was spent battling small cell lung cancer.
There were very regular appointments to take grandma to & sit in on. AND, somewhere along the line, her memory rapidly began to decline. That meant, not only did I take her to her appointments & sit in to know what was going on, but I also needed to start doing other things for her.
I will never forget the day Grandma looked me dead in the eye & told me with a straight face that she had not taken her medication since she moved in with us.
She believed it to be true. But, I knew for a fact that it was not. And, when I did the math & back-tracked, I realized Grandma hadn't taken ANY of her medication — some life-altering! — for about TWO MONTHS!
That was a frightening realization.
Life changed even more then. I took her medication & went through it. I talked to her doctors & made sure she was on the right stuff. I got organized & set alarms on my phone & started bringing her medication to her. I even stood there WHILE she took it to make sure she didn't forget about it.
There's more, but I think the picture is being painted about the level of care & the amount of energy I needed to expend to give it.
Don't get me wrong. I am not sharing this as a “Whoa is me” moment. The purpose of sharing this with you is simply to give you a clear idea of what THIS particular “life storm” looked like for me.
I didn't even realize I was in the middle of a life storm.
At the time, I was just doing what needed to be done. Most of you would have done the same.
I'm not saying it was easy. There were a lot of tears & plenty of frustration. Grandma went in & out of being herself. And, particularly toward the end, her lack of memory paired with the fact she had been so independent for most of her life meant that she got angry when she thought we were keeping information from her.
Looking back, taking care of Grandma & watching her health decline was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
Now that it's over, I feel so… Broken. So tired. So numb. So afraid of death — my own & those I love. So STUCK — like I am wasting time! (Tomorrow isn't guaranteed!) So inadequate. So incredibly SAD… A huge chunk of my heart withered up & died along with that precious woman, y'know…
I cry a lot out of the blue. Some days I don't even want to get out of bed, but I do for my kids & husband. I skip showers. I rarely put on my makeup. I (hopefully temporarily) archived the Calculated Chaos Community.
I am irritable & snap at the people I love. Yet, at the same time, I spend more time committing their facial features & mannerisms to memory & savoring their hugs.
I'm a hot mess — not unlike the chaos you'd find after a hurricane or tornado if you think about it.
Dealing with the aftermath of life's storms is serious business.
I can attest to that, first-hand. I am living it. Right now. In the moment.
But, all is not lost. There's always a rainbow or a helping hand around too, right? That band of neighbors or disaster relief organization that steps in to help? Consider this list part of that… I've found a few things I've done (or am trying to do) to be actually helpful during this awkward time of life. Maybe they'll prove useful to you too.
#1: Don't censor your feelings.
Dealing with the aftermath of life's storms is hard enough. Let yourself FEEL however you feel. There is no right or wrong way for emotions to go where hard things are concerned.
Grief has no time limit, for example. Tears are allowed. Screaming is totally acceptable. If you're smiling & happy because of something, that is equally as acceptable too, though! There are NO RULES when it comes to emotions during times of crisis. And, anyone who tries to tell you different isn't speaking the truth to you. You are allowed to feel however you feel. Period. No shame.
#2: Limit life-altering decisions.
You're working on figuring out what your new normal is right now. While you're dealing with the aftermath of life's storms isn't the time to end a relationship, start a new business, sell a house, or do any other big-time activity. Just wait. And, if you do need to make a decision, talk it out with someone you trust. Focus on what you'll be least likely to regret in ten years. Regret is a big thing; if you can avoid it, do so.
#3: Learn the power of “NO.”
It's a full sentence. No. There's no explanation needed. You are not obligated to give one if you are not emotionally equipped to do so. Uh, you're not obligated to give one even if you ARE emotionally equipped. If you don't want to do something it is okay to say so.
#4: Ask for & accept help.
It's easy to hole up in our house & try to forget other people exist. But if you're having a hard time with something, you need to ask for help with it. Whether it is a spouse or family member, a friend, &/or a therapist, ASK for the help! Seriously. It's the best thing you can do for yourself — especially while you're dealing with the aftermath of life's storms.
And, even more so, when help is offered, TAKE IT. If someone is offering to help you, it is because they see the need & maybe you do not. Or maybe it's God working through someone else to assist you in this time. Recognize the opportunity to take a step toward dealing with the aftermath of life's storms more gracefully by saying YES to help when it is offered.
#5: Set a daily goal for yourself.
A daily goal. Not a weekly goal or a monthly goal. Every single day, set a goal of at least one thing that is a bit of a struggle for you that you're committing to get done before your head hits the pillow that night. It can be as simple as taking a shower some days. (For me, that IS my main goal sometimes, to be honest.)
Then, when you get the hang of a daily goal, give yourself three things for the day. Take it one day at a time — or one step of your goal at a time — if you have to. But it is important to have SOMETHING to be working toward & SOMETHING to be able to have a sense of accomplishment over when you achieve it.
Set yourself up for success. Set yourself up to be able to thrive when you're finally done dealing with the aftermath of life's storms — whenever that comes for you. (Remember, we all have our own timeline & that's okay.)
What other tips can you think of for dealing with the aftermath of life's storms? Share them in the comments for us. <3