3 Ways to Rebuild Faith After the Death of a Loved One
Faith…the complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
When someone you love unexpectedly dies, faith goes out the window. Or at least it did for me. I trusted that if we had a “normal” pregnancy, everything would be fine. I trusted that when I left the house in labor I would bring a baby home. I did not.
After the loss of a loved one, everything you thought was true isn’t anymore.
Before Adeline, I was the eternal optimist, the “silver lining” girl, always looking for the good in every situation and finding the bright side. I truly believed in those silly statements like, “Everything happens for a reason” or “All will work out for the best.”
After Adeline’s stillbirth, there was no “reason” and I certainly knew it wasn’t going to “work out for the best”.
I laid in bed at night and wondered if the tree above my room would fall on us at night and take us too. I’d get in the car and think, “Will I get in a car accident today?” I wondered if my body would ever be able to do the simple things that I once enjoyed, like go on a hike, again.
I didn’t trust myself and my own decisions; I didn’t trust my body. I no longer trusted that God (or the energy forces that keep this world moving round) had my back.
Where do you turn when your faith is shaken?
It was a difficult place to be for an optimist. Here’s how I began to slowly rebuild trust again. Quick disclaimer here, this will be a lifelong journey. Even today, I can’t say I completely trust myself or my body or the world around me and, honestly, I don’t know if I ever completely will. But I will say this, I have more faith now than I did before and this is how I built it.
How to rebuild trust after loss and find faith again, one day at a time.
Focus on what is working
You’ve just been through your worst nightmare. Everything you experience from this point forward will be through a lens of grief. It’s like you're looking at the world with clouded glasses on and everything is a little fuzzy and out-of-focus. That’s ok. Be there, and experience that for what it is. Where you are is exactly where you need to be, at this moment, so allow for that.
Today, try to do one thing a little different
At the end of your day, write down one thing that went well. Just one thing. Keep a notepad by your bed and make a note of your one thing right before you sleep. It’s a nice little bedtime ritual. I do recommend writing your one thing down because at the end of the week you can look at your one “things” and, all of a sudden, it’s 7 things that went well this week!
Writing down your one thing not only will help you begin to notice the good in your life, it will also be the last thing you think about before going to sleep. Falling asleep with a positive thought on your mind can be very helpful in your quality of sleep and how you feel when you wake.
When I said write down “one thing” that goes well in your day, it could literally be “I didn’t put coffee in my cereal this morning.” Life after loss is hard. Sometimes it can feel like nothing is going your way.
Focusing on the smallest events can help you start to notice the good. Once you start to notice the small things, often the rest will begin to snowball. There’s also this amazing thing that happens when you start to focus on the good. You start to see more good. You start to notice bigger things that are going well.
Have you ever heard the saying, “If you think about a yellow Ferrari over and over all of a sudden there are yellow Ferrari’s everywhere”? Same concept here. When we start to focus on the smallest of things that are going well, all of a sudden more things will go well.
Forget the results
Having faith means you trust someone or something, no matter the outcome. This is where life gets hard for most of us. We want our efforts to yield the results we want. Trust, however, isn’t about getting what we want. It’s about trusting that no matter the outcome, we will be supported.
If you live in the U.S. you know we are a society focused on results, how can we get what we want quickly and in the easiest way possible. After the loss of a loved one, it’s hard to accomplish anything and typically we fall short of what our old self could have accomplished. Often, we then beat ourselves up for not being able to do all the things we did before.
What if instead of focusing on the result we focused on how we feel as we make decisions, take a walk, have a conversation, or experience anxiety. What if we forget about the end result and just be in the moment with all the feelings.
The next time you take a walk try this and see how it feels. Take six deep breathes, listen to the sounds around you, and soak in what you see. When you get back, pause for moment and ask yourself, “How do I feel right now?”
After the death of a loved one, no result will ever give us what we really want… the return of our loved one. Our only hope is to experience how we feel each day.
Each day is a new day. Do your best to honor where you are. If some days you can’t think of anything, don’t sweat it. This is not about perfection. This is not about hitting a goal. This is about rebuilding your life. Take your time, love. I’ll be here to support you.
Does life feel out of control? Do you feel overwhelmed and anxious? Check out this free guide on How to Calm the Chaos After Loss.