Most of us have experienced loss and grief - or, if not, we all will at some point in our lives. Watch, listen and read my story of healing from loss, grief and depression and the 3 Steps on how you, too, can heal from loss and grief
How to Heal from Loss and Grief
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My Story of Loss, Grief and Depression...
When you see me today, you wouldn’t think that I once was so depressed I nearly committed suicide.
So, how did I get so low that I was ready to die rather than continuing to live as I was? And how did I get out of the rut to now live a life full of vibrant energy, passion and purpose?
Let me tell you.
Just 2 years earlier, in 1996, I was working 16-hour-days in my successful dermatology, naturopathic and family practice in Germany.
I loved my work and helping my patients get well, but I neglected myself and my own health.
Something had to give, and for me, it was my back. A disc slipped and I had to spend 4 weeks in hospital learning to walk again.
I entered a rehab program and started to work again, first part-time, then full-time. Shortly afterwards, a second disk slipped, putting me back in agony.
This time I gave up. I fell in a deep depression and had to sell my office.
Shortly afterwards, my then-husband, having struggled with mental illness all his life after a traumatic childhood, decided to commit suicide.
I was left, with a bad back, a deep depression, an immense sense of loss and grief, 2 teenage boys – and immigration papers to Canada.
We had decided 4 years earlier to immigrate to Canada to spare our boys the German army, which was then compulsory.
So I decided to come to Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada in the fall of 1997.
It turned out to be the best decision of my life, but in the beginning, things got worse.
Isolated, shy to the point of not wanting to answer or pick up the phone, sick, depressed, I had no-one to talk to, two demanding, spoiled teenage boys, and felt like I was all alone and the only one with these issues.
That’s when I decided to commit suicide. The emotional pain was too agonizing to bear any longer. The losses had accumulated and I couldn’t deal with it anymore.
At this point, I didn’t even care enough for my boys anymore to not want to commit suicide. Nothing mattered except ending the unbearable emotional pain. That’s what depression can do to you.
I obviously didn’t follow through, or I wouldn’t be able to talk to you today.
So what happened? What stopped me?
As I was driving down the highway, aiming for a sturdy bridge post to end it all, my intuition awoke. For the first time in my life I heard the little voice in my belly. It said: “Christine, you don’t really want to die. You want help!”
And boy, am I glad I listened to it. I pulled all my courage together and I did the hardest thing I ever did in my life:
I drove myself to the emergency room and asked for help.
And please, if you are considering suicide today, I implore you: Reach out and ask for help. Talk to a friend, a loved one, a doctor, call the hotline, call 911 or whoever you can find that may be able to help. You are so worth it!
I know it was the hardest – and best thing I did for myself. Ever in my close to 60 years.
I was very fortunate to find the help I needed: I was admitted to the mental hospital and stayed there for 4 weeks, a very long time for a Canadian hospital, probably because I tried to commit suicide again in the hospital…
And I can tell you, for a former physician to end up as an inpatient in a mental hospital, being locked up, having to use washrooms without locks, being checked on every 5-15 min on suicide watch, and even ending in the QT room for a night – a very cold, tiled room with only a drain and a plastic-encased mattress… for the worst cases…It was very humbling and embarrassing.
Having no real other choice, I learned a lot there about myself, believe me.
After a 6-week day hospital group therapy I was discharged to struggle on for myself….
And struggle I did for about the next 10 years.
I felt often discouraged, had side effects from medication, brain fog, couldn’t think clearly, my memory just sucked, and I couldn’t shake off the immense feeling of loss after losing my life’s purpose as well as my husband. I felt like I was the victim of circumstances. I questioned every decision I ever made in my life.
Then something happened:
I made a decision. The decision for change. For change to a better life.
So I enrolled in courses, classes, workshops in all areas of health, alternative medicine and naturopathy, personal development, spirituality, studied supplements and so much more.
Eventually I was able to apply my knowledge to myself.
I changed my life by following the 12 steps that I map out in my roadmap and checklist to heal depression, emotional pain and chronic fatigue. You can download it for free on my website, www.docchristine.com, and as a reward for those who do you can apply for one of my few free feel-great-again coaching sessions, too.
So - what happened with me?
I gradually felt better and better, the supplements and lifestyle changes cleared my brain fog and thinking, I was able to reduce the drugs and eliminate the side effects and re-connected with my purpose, which is and always was helping others achieve their breakthroughs to achieve their optimal quality of life so they, too, can live their lives full of vibrant energy and with passion and purpose.
That’s what I do now every day and I love every moment of it.
How do I heal after loss?
Loss is part of life. Death is part of life. And as a plant that dies decays and new plants grow on the remains, so can we grow on the remains of loss and grief.
Grieving a loss is natural. But if your grief starts to overwhelm you and your life and nothing else seems to matter anymore, and you feel your life will never be good again, I want to give you hope.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not a freight train. You may be in the dark part of the tunnel, and the analogy I use is taken from the long tunnels in the European Alps that we as children drove through on our way from Germany to the beaches of Italy. At first it is very dark, and you cannot see the end. But then, a sudden turn, and the southern sunshine brightens your spirit.
That’s how I see life and recovering from loss, grief and depression.
Go through the dark part. It will inevitably lead you to the sunshine. Keep going. We all struggle with life sometimes. You are not alone.
Change is part of life. People always say: “There are two things sure in life: death and taxes”. I disagree. It’s just not true. Yes, death is inevitable, but taxes are not. You can refuse to pay taxes and accept the consequences: going to jail…
But there are 2 things that are inevitable in life: one is death - and the other is change. You will experience change in your life, and it is your decision how you approach it.
You can feel like the victim of circumstances and feel sad and down – or you can accept the challenge and grow as a person.
Your life will never be the same again after a loss. Do I remember my husband fondly? Do I remember my days as a successful physician fondly? I do
Do I love my new life? Absolutely!
After I embraced change and followed through, my life turned around, I grew as a person and I feel better now than I remember ever feeling before.
We all will stumble in our struggle and need to get back up to continue. Be gentle to yourself. Encourage yourself. You wouldn’t tell a child trying to learn to walk: “You are so stupid. You will never learn to walk. See how often you fall down. Better give up. It’s hopeless…” -
So why are we treating ourselves often in these ways?
The 3 Steps to healing after Loss
It’s time we became our own best friends. It’s time we are walking our way through our loss and grief. Having gone through it myself, here are my 3 steps to healing after loss. Feel free to follow them for your own healing journey:
STEP 1: Allow Yourself To Grieve
Allow Yourself to grieve for the first period after your loss. Accept the pain and sadness. Let yourself feel it and sit with it. Try not to push it away. Love yourself. Hug yourself. Cry.
STEP 2: Embrace The Change
After a few weeks to a few months at most, you will be ready to start to accept and embrace the change, and work towards a life without the lost thing or person and in the process grow as a person yourself in the physical, mental and spiritual realms. Imagine what the lost loved one would have wanted you to do. Explore options to replace a lost opportunity or profession. Think through your purpose in life. I call it answering the 3 W’s:
- Who am I,
- Why am I here on this Earth and
- What do I want to do with the rest of my life.
We all should do this exercise often in our lives, even after the immediate grieving period is over.
STEP 3: When To Reach Out For Help
If you get stuck, please reach out for help. Search for someone who won’t judge you and ideally has experienced loss themselves. This can be a grief counselor, a psychologist, your doctor, a friend, family member or a Certified Brain and Mental Health Coach like myself.
Where To Go From Here
Please accept my offer for the 12-step roadmap and checklist to reverse depression, emotional pain and chronic fatigue and the free feel-great-again session. Download it for free on my website: www.docchristine.com
I wish you a healthy, vibrant life full of passion and purpose.
It is possible, believe me. You are worth it. I love you all.