I wanted to stay home and stay alone.

Can you relate?

I remember the strangeness of it all like it was yesterday. I was in my deepest depression, committed to twice a week counseling to “get it all sorted out”.

My mentor at the time called and asked me how I was doing. Tears turned into sobs as I spilled out that I was definitely not OK. And within that very same month my mentor called again and asked me to be a student leader in the ministry. I was baffled. These thoughts went through my head:

My mentor then dropped the truth bomb on me: “Danica, it’s time to start looking outside of yourself, to turn your focus to others.” Looking back, I actually resented that comment at the time. I wanted to stay home and stay alone. I wanted to hole up in a cave, where no one could see me, until that magical day when all things would be healed and made right.

But thankfully, I had people in my life who cared about me and knew there was a better way.

I think there is a normal and natural time of turning inward after a loss has happened. Even the body does this for physical ailments - it concentrates more energy and resources in the place of hurt, in order to heal.

But nurse that wound or sprain for too long, and the muscles won’t recover like they should. Compensating for the hurt place for too long could compromise its full and proper healing! (Note: Everyone has the right to grieve in their own timing. I have no idea what is “too long” - I don’t think anyone but you knows this. But when you realize it, do something about it!)

“Turning outward” can look like so many things. It can be volunteering at a soup kitchen once a month just to remind you that other people have it bad, too. It can be joining a grief support group for yourself, and simply noticing someone who’s having a difficult time, and asking them over to your house for dinner.

For me, Project Grief is the result of my decision to turn outward. First I realized that what I’ve been through - and what I learned by going through it - has value. And then I learned that I could impart that value to others.

Grief artists learn to see outside of themselves, to help others who are hurting.

I don’t have a simple 1-2-3 application for you this week. That’s because the degree and method of your turning outward depends on where you’re at in the grief process, and what skills and resources you have to offer.

But one thing I have to offer is this: encouragement. I love cheering people on as they find their “thing,” their light, to share with the world. I love encouraging people who haven’t found it yet, or are just beginning to. So be brave and leave a comment telling me one way you’re beginning to turn outward this month. I’d LOVE to cheer you on!

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