An ancient coping strategy that still works
Are you looking for a way to ease the pain of your great loss? Have you tried the usual advice of keeping busy or trying not to think about what you’ve lost and it doesn’t seem to help? It will be worth your time and energy to take a look at what has proven useful for millions over the years.
I’m talking about the miraculous way that finding opportunities to be of service to others has eased the heavy burden of dealing with the death of a loved one. Stop – don’t dismiss this out of hand before giving it an honest try. You cannot help another without helping yourself.
It all starts with a sincere intention to serve and embracing the truth that making the world a better place is worth the effort. Intention is critical to every commitment we make and sets the frame of mind that begins healing.
How does helping others help us cope with the death of a loved one? Here are some of the insights gained and shared by others.
1. Selfless service forces you to interact with others in different ways. As adults, we all have a natural tendency to give love, attention, and help. Perhaps this is because of the way such acts of kindness bring us closer to others. But we must be open to seeking opportunities to bring our skills, experience and treasures to those in need. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “While we love, we serve.” We need each other.
2. Achievements always have a positive effect on the way we think about ourselves. This is especially important when we are dealing with a great loss, as we are sad and our spirits are down. We need the lift that comes with easing someone else’s pain or brightening their day. Perhaps that is why Emerson advises, “One of the most beautiful compensations in life is that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
3. Serving others reduces the time we spend replaying painful memories of thoughts surrounding the death of our loved one. A single thought can cause great pain or begin to bring peace. Serving others takes us outside of ourselves as we turn our attention to the other. It can be as simple as making a phone call to closed while lying in bed or walking up and taking your place in the serving line for those in need of food.
4. Your service will positively affect your biological response to the death of a loved one. Grief is not just an emotional reaction. Every thought we have affects our physiology, in a positive or negative way. Getting out, interacting with others and reflecting how you help those in need will affect your physiology in a healthy way; it will especially boost your immune system and reduce stress levels.
5. You will be on the path to inner peace. Part of your lifelong journey may be filled with moments of gratitude that come to you through your work with others. It can put into perspective what you still possess but has eluded you – the ability to find peace. It will show you the importance of all the little things you have that we usually take for granted. And the joy of acceptance, approval and appreciation of what you achieve through service will bring peace back into your life.
And never forget; don’t forget to let others give to you. By doing this, you are giving them the same things we are talking about here: good feelings, good physiology, and an opportunity to express your love. True service is always a two-way street.
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