Although traumatic events such as serious illness, heartbreak and family breakdown can be painful, some hardship helps us to develop courage, hope, resilience and strong boundaries and actually makes us prepare for life’s inevitable ups and downs.
Rhona offers tips for dealing with difficult events in this article on how there is light in the darkness:
SERIOUS FAMILY ILLNESS
The impact on family and friends can vary enormously when a loved one is seriously ill. “While one family member may become very vocal, another may be withdrawn, so allow space and time for each person to deal with it in their own way,” says Rhona Clews. Explain simply and gently what is happening to your children, keeping them included but also protected from painful details and feelings.
“And ask friends for support with practical arrangements: if you need washing done, meals prepared or pets walked and fed, don’t try and do everything by yourself,” adds Clews.
Remove upsetting reminders such as photos and mementos from your home environment. “Set healthy boundaries around your ex and, if necessary, create rules for yourself, like not going on their Facebook page and letting friends know that you don’t want to hear updates about how your ex is,” says Rhona Clews.
Another key factor to your recovery is reminding yourself how loveable you are: surround yourself with people who you love and feel loved by you to ease any anguish.
Family arguments between parents and children often get worse as the offspring get older. “Negative family dynamics are often maintained via ‘the drama triangle’, i.e. one person is the victim, one the rescuer, one the persecutor, then you all switch roles,” says Clews. “It can be a merry-go-round of ‘he said’, ‘she said’ that can feel hard to leave. Put an end to this by not engaging with it via gossip.”
Activities such as country walks, yoga and swimming can help you feel calmer. If arguments have been going for a long time, accept that it won’t be easy to resolve them. “Remember you cannot change another person. Become clear about what is OK with you and what isn’t, set healthy boundaries around these and maintain them,” says Clews.
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Words by Marina Gask. Top image by Rhona Clews