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What to do when your world falls apart

Pretty much the definition of your world falling apart is that it hits you without notice – one moment you are going about your merry way, doing whatever it is you do, and the next moment, BLAM! Your world falls apart.

It may be that dreaded phone call that tells you a loved one is gone, a child is on drugs, a friend has done something unthinkable. It may be your spouse’s “I’m leaving,” or a horrific panorama on the evening news – for the umpteenth day in a row. It may be a beloved coach’s passing, or just a feeling that all is not all right with the world, and it never will be.

It may, seemingly, be many of the above, all at once.

How can you even begin to pick up the pieces? When your heart is broken, you are worried beyond belief, and you can hardly take a breath, how can you go on?

Know there is no right or wrong way to go through this – everyone is different, the ways they handle crises are also different. Whatever you are feeling is ok. YOU ARE OK. You are not crazy or abnormal. Your grief and distress is not unusual or aberrant. Your feelings are OK.

First, ground yourself as well as you can. Regardless of what has happened, you are here, it is now, your own life, for the moment at least, is continuing. Evoke your five senses – feel something with texture to it. Smell something fragrant and pleasant. Taste something – really taste it. See. Hear. Be present as well as you can. Practicing this mindful behavior, while hard in the moment, will help you to ground yourself and get your emotions under control so that you can think, and process everything in a less traumatic and dramatic way.

Pay especial attention to self care. Eat, sleep. You may not be up to being merry, but make sure you are taking care of yourself. This may be the very thing you do not want to do – you may have no energy for it, in fact – but do it anyway. It’s good for you, and over time will allow you to heal.

Rely on the supportive people around you – friends, family, your faith community – anyone who can walk with you through this crisis. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A wise person just told me that, if you wish to give, you also have to learn to receive. When receiving is your lot, do it gracefully. When it’s not, give back generously.

Evoke your faith. This is the time to lean on our God, who hears, who sees, and who loves. No matter what has happened, pray to be held in the palms of His hands, and feel His presence and His peace. Remember, His peace is not based on the circumstances of this world: neither death, nor life, neither weather nor terrorism, but on God’s love, mercy and grace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” Jesus said. (John 14:27). He means it.

Pray without ceasing. Give your burdens to God, over and over again, as often as you must. Cry out to Him, and He will walk through your broken, falling-apart world with you.

It sounds like a cliché to say “God is in control,” but it’s also true. It may make NO sense to us, and it may, in fact, make us angry at God, but He is still on the throne. He is still writing the story. He is still in control.

Know, too, you are not alone. We are here to help.

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