What do I do now? 4 tips on how to deal with unexpected loss

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A heart can heal but it is never the same

The last thing on my mind as I was looking at my husband’s body on the mental gurney, still in his mountain biking clothes, was how to deal with loss. No. I was thinking that this was a horrific nightmare and that I will wake up right now. Cold to touch. No response. What do I do now?

How does one deal with the unexpected? The totally shocking and unbelievable happening? Sudden death. We don’t expect it and yet according to a multi-year study in UK conducted by the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, 24.7% of deaths are unexpected. Sobering.

Alas there is no road map, but there are a few things you can do to ease the shock and pain a bit by the way you live each day before the unexpected happens. Live each day. Say what you really mean. Be kind. Do what really is important to you.

I’ve found that if I make things a habit then I don’t have to think about them, they just get done. Like brushing your teeth.

1. Give thanks. Give thanks for the day, for waking up, for having the ability to feel the aches and pain of overdoing. When we are grateful we find more reasons to be thankful because we look for the good things and find the positive in what may be perceived as negative experiences. So when something really bad arises, you wouldn’t have spent your time complaining or fighting with the one you are now crying about.

2. Express yourself honestly. Voice what is really important to you with care and consideration for the other party, but express your true feelings. We may hesitate to speak up because we are afraid of the reaction. If we leave deep emotions unexpressed we would truly regret it when we are no longer able to share them after the person or situation has passed on.

3. Forgive. Yes. We are only burning ourselves when we hold onto the flame of anger, judgment and unforgiveness. Free ourselves from the weight of carrying the burden of resentment. Avoid the bitter regret that may ensure when there is no chance to do so after the person dies.

4. Laugh. Humor releases positive endorphins, which increasesself-esteem, improves coping skills, and better equip us for dealing with difficult and even life-threatening situations.

By definition we can never fully prepare for the unexpected. We can enjoy life and what we truly value more by living each day fully, grateful and being present and honest. Happy and healthy day to you. I am thankful for you.

Written by

Marilyn Tam, global speaker, best selling author (The Happiness Choice), business leader and humanitarian. Formerly the CEO of Aveda, President Reebok, VP Nike

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