08/17/2016 02:12 EDT | Updated 08/17/2016 02:59 EDT

Resilience Dictates How You Pick Up The Pieces After Loss

male left hand with chalk...

If you had to name your most important value, what would you say? What drives your decisions and life choices? Have you thought about it? Whenever I think about values, I often think of my son and the key value that I want to leave him with. I never have to think about the answer; it is very clear to me. I want my son to be resilient. It has always been very important to me that my son learns to weather the storms of life and to not be defeated by hardship.

I learned early in life that just when we think we have it all, we don't. Nobody has a right to happiness, good fortune, opportunity or success. We can't demand it nor make it happen, just because we want it to. Good fortune comes to some of us and misses many others. As soon as you have it, you can lose it.

Believing that we can control our futures lessens our anxiety and fear. We work hard to control what we can, and that's a good thing. It's important to set up the conditions for success. However, much of life just happens, often in spite of our best efforts to direct it. And because of that, we need to build resilience into our lives.

No matter what your situation, you need resiliency to resurrect what remains of your life and your future when facing loss.

I have had the privilege of supporting people in some of the worst times in their lives; as a volunteer in a palliative care unit and as a career transition consultant. In both situations, I've shared the profound loss of the sure thing and an odyssey into the shadows. It can be devastating.

In a moment, all that somebody believed was solid and true is no longer. The reality upon which they built their lives and their futures suddenly shifts. Certainty becomes uncertainty; solid ground becomes quicksand. Resilience gets them through, and so do other values such as love, courage, integrity, wisdom.

How individuals face these tough situations depends on their character and personality. Some are stoic and recognize that they need to make major changes in their lives and their assumptions. They get down to work and rebuild, creating something new out of what remains.

Others have difficulty accepting what has been lost; they rage and despair, trying to hang on to a past that is no longer.

Others are simply lost; they have no idea how to move forward and how to envision their lives differently.


No matter what your situation, you need resiliency to resurrect what remains of your life and your future when facing loss. What are the actions I'm suggesting in the fact of loss? Below are five -- you likely can add to my list.

Accept that you are not owed anything.

Not happiness, nor opportunity, nor success. Sometimes you are lucky and good fortune shines on you. In that case, be grateful. When luck runs out, be thankful for what you had and learn from your hardship.

Bring grace.

There are others who have suffered setbacks and sharing your experience and learning can help them. Take your pain and turn it to something worthy.

Get support.

Often, people don't want to admit that life isn't going well or they don't want to seem "negative." They fear rejection and so they won't share what is happening nor ask for help. By withdrawing, they deny others the gift of generosity and of feeling useful. People get great value out of helping others so don't deny them the chance to help you.

Move to action.

While it's important to acknowledge and process your emotions, remaining locked in your feelings doesn't help you to move forward. Accept your emotions, let your soul send love your way. Then make a plan.

Appreciate the fragility of what you have and be thankful.

When your situation improves and you once again regain your stability, remember to be grateful. There's always somebody worse off than you. Find them and help.

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