How I am working through personal crisis
In January my family and I experienced the first death of an immediate family member: my wife’s father passed away after an eight-year battle with cancer. My role in the grieving processes of Jennifer and my two children has been as the foundation onto which they could hold. We all have to go through grief at some point in life, but grief about the death of a family member is particularly challenging.
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In our case, the experience has been magnified, because we have had to deal with another family member experiencing a severe breakdown at the same time. To say that this turn of events has been anything but catastrophic would be an understatement. Effectively, we have lost two close family members in the span of four months, with no chance of getting one back and, due to a mental health system that keeps power in the hands of a mentally ill person unless a crime has been committed, little chance of getting the other one back.
Needless to say, it has been a roller-coaster start to 2016.
However, life must move forward. There is no way for it not to, because time controls all. Children must go to school, and employers pay us adults to put effort into our work.
I would like to offer you what we, as a family, have done in an effort to work through our grief during this trying time.
Emotion is an offspring of motion. So, a couple weeks after the death of Jennifer’s father, Jennifer and I recommitted to working out at least three times per week. We both are very busy, so our workouts consist of twenty to forty minutes of high-intensity body-weight exercise. We hired a fitness coach to train us at our home once each week. Yesterday, after two months of doing this, he tested our fitness and compared it to our starting points. Both of us have improved significantly. Then we both bought fitness trackers and immediately engaged in a competition to take at least 10,000 steps each day. I have not only taken care of myself and Jennifer but also ensured that both of our kids began moving more.
Emotion is an offspring of motion.
Because the kids are young enough to start making decisions of their own, I began teaching them the value of painting a picture on the screen of their minds for where they want to be in one, three, and five years from now. In the weeks following my father-in-law’s death, I talked with them about those visions during our drives to and from their activities. I noticed immediately that when we talked about the fine details of their visions, they smiled and their posture improved. Where focus goes, energy flows.
Where focus goes, energy flows.
When Jennifer and the kids come downstairs each morning for breakfast, I ask them goal-oriented questions: How do you plan to make today great? What one thing can you do today to help someone? What one thing can you do today to move you closer to your goal? I often say foolish things just to make them smile or laugh. Anyone who knows me know that this is not a difficult task. I walk around most of the day with my foot in my mouth. But my goal of asking these questions is to generate dialogue that creates positive emotion.
My family is not in the clear yet. We have a very serious, uphill battle ahead of us. However, by focusing on physiology, focus, and language, we will get through it and come out the other side stronger than ever.
What are your thoughts on working through times of intense negative emotion? I welcome them in the comments below. By all means, if you have any suggestions, I’m all ears.