Resilience. A noun which means to recover from change, adversity or challenge. Buoyancy.

When we are grieving, it can sometimes feel as though there is no way forward. That this new reality has taken all of the air right out of us and left us flattened. That’s entirely fair, I get it.

Some are hardwired to go through the toughest times with what seems an innate ability to see a broader picture, to know that while they are broken, they will rise again. For others, that wiring seems quite different and the picture that they see is bleak and gray. This doesn’t mean that the pain or grief is any less for one group than the other, simply that they grieve and heal in their own way. One is more naturally resilient and the other will be well served by learning resilience.

Yes, resilience can be learned, it can be built within you. Just like most things on this journey through grief, into healing, it is one step at a time. None of the things below happen all at once, but knowing that you are taking steps toward healing is helpful. It matters.

– Surround yourself with a circle of support. Deliberately notice those who are able to support you with love and kindness. Become aware of those who leave you feeling better and those who leave you feeling worse when they leave. Choose to spend time with those who are there when you need them and leave you feeling better when you part. This is a very important step in self care.

– Make the daily, deliberate choice that you will rebuild your life. Yes, you are indeed forever changed. Accept that fact. (I know it’s not easy) Accept also, that change can be growth. The new you can and will be a person of increased compassion and kindness if you choose.

– Notice your thoughts and your words. Please don’t be judgmental of yourself, simply be aware. So often one who is grieving will tell themselves ‘I will never get over this.’ ‘My life is over now.’  or other statements of the like. When you hear yourself saying something along these lines, simply notice. And consider shifting the language or at least considering the possibility that those lines may be untrue. For instance, ‘I will never get over this.’ may be shifted to ‘I’m healing a bit at a time. I got through this morning’. Give yourself credit for doing a good job, it will help you to see that you are doing this, you are taking the steps toward healing.

– Find a purpose for your life. This may mean stepping further into something that has always been important to you or it may mean spending some time listening to your heart and discerning what is most meaningful to you now. Often, someone who has lost someone to a specific disease will spend time and energy supporting research efforts to eradicate the disease. Or someone who suffered severe financial reversals or even homelessness takes the time and energy to reach out to others who are going through a similar experience.

There are many other suggestions and I will certainly be writing more about this in the future.

The point is this, when we change our thoughts, our words and our actions, even the smallest bit, we change the way our life unfolds. We begin to build strength and resilience. We may not bounce back, but we will find our way back to life in a new way. One step at a time.