How do you cope with devastating news

Christian Jacques Bennett Blog

It is a fact of life that at some point in your life devastating news will come your way.

At the time of writing this post there are many families hearing devastating news that loved ones have been lost or are being effected by the Ukrainian Russian war.

Trying to come to terms with news that your mind cannot immediately comprehend is a feeling I do not wish on anyone.

Usually the 5 stages of grief work through your thoughts. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

For each person these stages can happen in different orders.

Denial is all about the human brain trying to come to immediate terms with the news. Some people think they have dreamt the news and they will wake up and things will be back to what they were. Some people carry on as normal, thinking that such normal actions will reverse the news or stop its impact.

Anger usually follows denial. It is a protective emotion. It helps come to terms with some obvious questions: "Why did this happen to me!? Why now!? Why did it happen to someone who didn't deserve it!?" ... these questions demand that someone, something, somewhere must have answers and if you get them, if you show how much the news has angered you, you will be able to overturn the news, and or your anger will stop you feeling any of the other 3 remaining stages.

Bargaining (or Contemplation) is another stage that comes into your thoughts. This is the stage where your mind mulls over anything and everything that has happened in the past, present and even the future. This is where you try and bargain with your god - or your own self (sometimes others) - in attempt to change the verdict and or understand why the outcome has happened. "What if" usually starts the thoughts in this stage. What if you have done something differently? What if you had contacted them the hour before the news? Of course, none of these change the devastating news.

Depression (or Sadness) is an obvious stage. This is the time when you feel very sad about the news. You find it hard to cope. You are not sure if you can carry on. You are crying. You are looking for reasons to be happy. Will you ever be happy again? People will experience different levels of sadness. Many people incorrectly believe that if you feel or show more sorrow than someone else, then you loved that person more than others. This is obviously not true, and it is not true for every stage. Grief is not a competition.

Acceptance is usually the final stage. This is when you really get it. Things will not be the same again. It can actually be a happy stage for some. This is when they have come to terms with the memories and can use them to improve their or other people's lives. Accepting does not mean you have to forget, it just means you know that the devastating news will not change no matter what you do or think. For some accepting can also lead them back into the other stages. Grieving is unique to each individual, there is no one size fits all.

Communication is a sixth stage I have added. It usually filters through the other stages. It is also the ingredient (for want of a better word) that will help you cope with devastating news.

Let me be clear about the term I am using, "Devastating News", and what I mean by it. It is not just about death. Devastating news can be caused from a partner you love leaving you in a terrible way. In the Ukraine situation it can be how you cope hearing that your family is still in a part of the world where death is a high probability. It can also be a clinical diagnosis. Hearing your child has cancer or someone you love has had a heart attack is devastating news.

If you follow my blog you will know I love lists so let me just list out the things I believe will help you cope with devastating news:

1. Communication - I have already explained that talking your situation through in all of the stages of grief is VERY important and should be done often for you to come to terms with the situation. Here are some ideas of who you can talk to:

a. Family - This is an obvious choice; your family love you and want the best for you.
b. Friends - Friends are a great place to go if you cannot go to your family to chat.

c. Social Networks - Sharing how you feel anonymously can help, or joining in chats with other people experiencing similar news, just be careful you do not post publicly anything you may regret later on.
d. Organisations - There are many organisations setup to help people in your situation. These can surface out of nowhere specifically for catastrophes such as the Ukrainian war, here are a few links but feel free to always search Google to find some new ones:
3. UK Support For Students [Your country will likely have these too]
4. MuchLoved - For Grief
5. Healthline Support Group List with Ratings
e. Therapists - Therapists cost money but they are trained to help you get through your grief in a way they have experienced with others before you. Therapy does not necessarily mean contacting a Psychologist, it can be alternate therapies that help, from hypnotherapy to more spiritual or physical therapies like acupuncture.

f. Religious Representatives - Priests, Imams and the many other religious leaders used to be the main place people would go to talk through their pains. They are still there and can provide not only their own advice but they can also provide you with a community to help support you through the tough times.

g. Teachers - Teachers do care about your wellbeing. They can be a good person to tell about your troubles so they can adapt their approach to you whilst you are doing your coursework.

h. Work Colleagues - It is useful to tell your work colleagues what you are going through. These days you can be given time off to cope and come to terms with your situation.

2. Exercise - I would say that exercise is of equal importance to communication. Exercise offers your whole body a way to come to terms with your devastating news. Exercise improves your mental health, your cognitive functioning and your memory. It also reduces stress, social anxiety and depression. For me exercise is so powerful in dealing with devastating news because it allows you to express your feelings without words. If you are angry you can pump heavy weights to get your anger out, you can run faster, jump further, climb higher. Exercise allows you to get your feelings out but also to experience different emotions alongside. For example, if you run up a steep mountain, the actual benefit of reaching the top and then looking down at all of the beauty, is something you cannot put into words but it heals your soul. Here are some ideas to get you exercising:

a. Dancing - Dancing doesn't just mean you have to join a club, you can dance anywhere at any time. Put on some music which will bring out your emotions and dance your heart out!

b. Gym - Joining a gym is a great way to use all of their equipment to get a full body workout. It is also somewhere you can meet other people, or take a friend along and talk at the same time. 

c. Walking - Just get out and walk. Take a friend, walk and talk at the same time.

d. Running - Run faster when you feel your thoughts getting angry, adjust your pace to how you feel to let yourself heal. If you want, take a friend along - or join a running group to meet new people. 

e. Water Sports - Swimming is a great way to get exercise. Water is a healer. Besides swimming though, you can do water sports like sailing, scuba diving, rowing. Side note related to water; also just having a simple shower (although not exercise) helps you feel renewed.

f. Other Sports - There are many other outdoor sports besides skiing. Maybe do some indoor rock climbing. Walking your dog every day is exercise. Doing DIY is also exercise. Gardening too.

3. Laughter - This may not sound like something you want to do when you hear devastating news. Yet laughter is a healer. It can sometimes lead to crying which gets out deep emotions you may be carrying inside. I recommend you go to comedy clubs, watch comedy, just smile until you laugh. It will make you feel better and feeling better is crucial to showing you that you are still allowed to laugh, you are still able to experience happiness even if in small moments at first.

4. Achieve Something - There are many stories of people overcoming hardships to create a better life and achieve incredible things. Take that pain you are feeling and use it to propel you to something amazing. Here are some ideas:

a. Raise money for a charity.

b. Run a marathon.

c. Create - Art is a healer. Draw, paint or create something. 

d. What other things can you think of?

5.  Love & Kindness - Love and kindness are very important in times of devastating news. It is true love does conquer all. Tell the people who are in your life that you love them. Find a new love. Many people get pets and this opens up a new love and experience which heals. 

6. Take A Break - Don't forget to give yourself a mental and physical break. If you do not have much money for a long holiday don't worry. You can simply take a nap in your lunch hour, visit a park or just chill to music on your phone. Eating falls within this too; having a meal with friends and talking through your grief will help.

And Finally...

I haven't added it to the list but "Time" truly is the greatest healer of all. Even if you do not forget, you will learn to live with your pain. However emotional you get, if you ever feel desperate to leave this world, don't! I promise you that time will heal you and you will reach a day when you were glad to have carried on. You are loved even if you do not realise it.

I realise this post is getting very long. 

THANK YOU so much for reading this far. I hope some of what I have written will help you or someone you know get through your devastating news.

One last thing. When I have experienced devastating news I just wanted to know that someone actually cared. Therefore, I want you to know I do care about what you are going through, and I am sending my healing vibes to you and wish you well. 

Take care of yourself today.

Author: Christian Jacques Bennett*

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If I could send 2 books back in time for my teenage self to read I would send these. In these two books you have the combined knowledge and wisdom of every single spiritual and self improvement book you can get your hands on .