Contrary to what you might think, the first thing you do when you get bad news is not to try to find the positive side.
No one goes too long without getting some bad news. One thing that really helps is taking such good care of yourself that you have reserves of energy to deal with the bad news when it arrives at your doorstep.
1. Acknowledge that it hurts.
When I got the bad news that my pregnancy had miscarried six years ago, the teacher of one of my kids said something that was unexpectedly helpful. She said, in her kindergarten-teacher sweet voice, “Sometimes life stinks!” I found that comforting.
Sometimes people in their not knowing what to do, and I know I’ve done this, too, is to put the happy face on too soon.
Repressing your grief will only cause it to come back later and bite you. You know that.
You even acknowledge the pain when you know it’s at least partially your responsibility. If an investment you chose goes south, that stinks. It doesn’t matter whose fault it it. It simply is.
2. This is time for extreme self care.
If stress is a killer, self-care is the antidote.
This may be a time to let go of a commitment, at least temporarily.
It’s definitely a time to rest and reflect, to process that grief.
At some point you want to call a compassionate friend; you probably don’t want to talk to someone who’s going to spin the bad news into an epic drama.
3. This is not the time for stories or self flagellation.
Everybody makes mistakes.
Do not allow the thought “This always happens to me” into your head. Don’t even ask why right now.
We are all here to learn, and perhaps there is a great lesson for you. Allow that to emerge later.
4. Do not turn on the television.
Immersing yourself in the fake drama of entertainment is tempting because you don’t feel your pain while you’re watching your soap-opera heroine deal with her own. It can be too easy to anesthetize the grief, rather than to process it.
5. Writing down your feelings helps to process them.
Not everyone takes to journal writing, but it is a place to situate what you’re feeling. You could even write down the things you fear will happen as a result of this bad news.
Consider writing some gentle ideas about love and healing.
6. Go outside and look at the sky.
Being outside is somehow comforting.
Taking some time to feel the pain is the only way to process it and get back to living. That’s why in some cultures there are rituals for the family members of a recently deceased person — it’s a ritual to process grief without having to make decisions about it.
If you’ve gotten bad news, take a time out. Then, if you want, you begin to heal.