Disaster can strike in many ways; financial, health, relationships or a death in the family.
Sometimes you know they’re on the horizon, like the recent death of my daughter’s dad from Melanoma (the nastiest form of skin cancer) but sometimes it sneaks up on you and catches you unaware.
With or without notice, a disaster can shake you to the bottom of your soul. Dusting yourself off after disaster strikes and finding a way to move through the experience can be a very real struggle.
Whatever type of disaster you’re dealing with, your emotional response is much the same.
You’ve probably heard about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
We tend to associate grief with the loss of a loved one but grief can be a response to any number of disasters and not just disasters that strike you personally. Just look at the world’s response to the loss of David Bowie or (my favourite actor) Alan Rickman.
You can also experience grief when financial disaster strikes or your marriage ends.
So, what can you do about it?
The first stage is always to acknowledge what and how you’re feeling. You might not be grieving the loss of a life but you could be grieving the loss of a future you saw for yourself. Acknowledge that. Don’t try to hide it or ignore it.
You might not spend equal time in all the five stages of grief but you’ll no doubt visit them all at some point in your journey through the experience.
Why is it so important to acknowledge the grief?
When you don’t, you set the scene for behaviours that mask how you’re feeling. These behaviours can be just as destructive to your ongoing well-being as the original disaster.
What sort of behaviours?
Comforting eating is a popular one, along with retail therapy. Not to mention even more risky behaviours like taking drugs or abusing alcohol.
When my own father died, I struggled to get through the depression stage. I still struggle with that eight years on. I spent so much time being strong for those around me that I never really allowed myself to grieve properly and along with developing insomnia, I also used food to soothe the pain. Both of which had a direct impact on my waistline.
Now that we’re faced with grieving my ex-husband, I’m very aware of our we’re dealing with our grief and I’m on the lookout for avoidance behaviours sneaking into our lives.
You’re probably wondering, “What does this have to do with frugal living?”
As it happens, a lot.
For everyone who ever found themselves in debt, or drowning in clutter, or spending half their earnings on junk food or getting high, there was undoubtedly an event that triggered that behaviour. A grief unprocessed. A hurt blamed away.
Even the most resilient of us need time to grieve.
So, if you’re shopping to numb the pain, don’t try to explain it away, explore it instead. When did it start? Was there an event that occurred around the same time that could have caused a grief response? Why does [fill in your own avoidance behaviour] make you feel better? How can you fill that need in a positive way?
Grieving the loss of a man I knew for most of my life and the father of my only child is going to be a challenge.
Has grief impacted you? How did you manage it? What did you learn? Please share your story with us in the comments.
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