We all have defining moments and the moments that alter us are often the traumatic ones. Tragedies that propel us into grief without our permission. Overcoming the grief that follows traumatic loss is possible. Not easy, but possible, and you don’t have to walk through it alone.
A Tragic Loss
A tragic moment in my life was the day I lost my father to suicide. Nine years later, those words still sting. They jump off the page at me with ugliness and contempt. They threaten my sense of peace and stability.
But they do not control my life any longer.
I may wrestle with them from time to time, but my life has not been derailed completely, nor do I believe it will be.
My father’s death catapulted me into a world I could not have imagined and still cannot believe I live in (denial is a strong ally in grief): a world where his suicide is a reality. If you’ve been through any sort of tragic loss, you understand how deeply your sense of reality can be impacted. It is difficult to recover from.
Grief can be merciless.
So then, how do you overcome? How do you navigate the depth of sadness that brings physical pain, depression, anxiety, uncertainty, fear, instability, and so much more?
There really is no single answer. It’s all a very personal journey. I only hope to share a little insight from my own journey and perhaps you can teach me something as well. I certainly don’t have the formula. How I wish I did.
The journey of overcoming traumatic loss is an inescapable fight for rest and relief.
There is no way around it, no way over it, no way under it. You must go through it. Overcoming doesn’t mean that you somehow avoid the hard work. It means you conquer every challenge thrown at you (and hint: you can’t do it alone).
At the risk of sounding too formulaic, I believe there are three primary areas of growth that have most influenced my journey to healing. These areas are foundational to healthy spiritual and emotional growth. I plan to write on them a good bit more.
Worship. We must encounter God in a place where we are ultimately willing to submit to His authority. Worship brings us into the presence of our loving Father, who knows everything we need and every thought we have. It is the safest place that exists.
Identity. We must recognize who we are in creation and that we have been uniquely made and loved by a very personal God. We are not defined by what we fall victim to in life. We are far more than our circumstances dictate. We must dig past the surface and find the pieces of our selves that God put there from the beginning.
Purpose. We must find and pursue our God-given purpose for our time on this planet. I believe this is intensely personal and unique, ultimately an extension of who we are in creation, tied to our identity, and rooted in a place untouched by our pain. Before Jeremiah was born, God knew him (identity) and called him to be a prophet (purpose).
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
Jeremiah 1:5 ESV
God knew you, too. And God called you.
You Are Not Alone
Where are you on your journey? Have you begun yet? Perhaps you’ve been bound by fear and anxiety, unmotivated by depression, or just lost in the confusion of exhausted grief. Wherever you are at, you can begin today. You can move forward.
Here’s the great promise of our God – you are not alone.
In human terms, you are not alone because many have been down this road. But even more so, God has not abandoned you – He is with you. He has promised it more than once.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2 ESV
As you begin down this path of healing (it won’t feel like that at first!), if you see hope for your journey at any moment, grab hold of it!
Fight to get through the next day, hour, minute, breath.
Many of us know the struggle, and would say so adamantly “you are not alone.” Just put one foot in front of the other.
You can overcome.
So what about your journey? Have you begun?
Join the conversation below (or start one!).