I originally wrote and published this as a blog back in 2018. I decided to revise and update it. I hope you enjoy it.
To me, a Dark Night of the Soul is a life crisis. We all have them. Although the causes for a Dark Night of the Soul are as varied as people are, it may be something like the loss of a marriage or relationship, the death of a loved one (human or pet), or the loss of a job.
My last Dark Night of the Soul, and the most intense of my life, occurred a few years ago when I was laid off from my job of 31 years. At that time, the company ripped off the last of my persona, the last of what was my self. I wasn’t an attorney any longer. I no longer knew who I was or how to describe me.
This job loss occurred after the loss of my marriage, the death of my ex-spouse, the occurrence of health challenges, and my parents’ death (I have no siblings). When I lost my mother, I had significant health issues and lost my job in one year. I felt lost and alone.
I want to pass on to you certain practical tips that helped me find my way out of the darkness. These are:
1. Expect to experience the stages of grief. The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Be kind to yourself as you experience these stages.
2. Give yourself time to experience all your emotions, including anger. Anger is hard for some to experience and release. If you are having difficulty experiencing and releasing anger, combine the feeling with a non-violent physical activity. By non-violent, I mean an activity that does not result in any injury to persons or property.
As an example, I have a whiffle bat and pillow. If I am angry, I write the specific negative feelings on 5 x 7 cards. These are the emotions or feelings you want or need to release to decrease your anger. Go somewhere you won’t be disturbed by others. Beat the card, Scream at the card, Release the anger and emotion through this activity. It may sound silly, but it has worked for me.
3. Allow yourself to mourn at your loss. After a major loss, it is essential to allow yourself to mourn. For me, mourning is to experience your feelings then let them go. It is very important during this time to cry and release those emotions. When I was laid off, I cried. I was depressed for months. A loss of something that you have known and been a part of for years like losing a marriage or losing a job, is a major life event. It takes time to heal.
4. Get out of bed at the same time every morning and get dressed. As basic as that sounds, if you are depressed, it may be easy to find yourself spending too many days in bed. Getting out of bed and dressing for the day is a very positive step to alleviate the depression.
5. Take care of your body. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
6. Avoid Alcohol or Other Intoxicating Substances. These substances exacerbate depression. Keep their use to a minimum.
7. Make and keep social contacts. Do not isolate yourself. Do not avoid talking to friends because this leads to more profound depression.
8. Reach out for help if you need to. Help is always close at hand. You can contact your minister, a therapist, or a life coach.
9. Reach out to your Higher Power. No matter what religion or faith, a Dark Night of the Soul is the time to connect with your Higher Power.
10. Know the Darkness will leave. Be patient with yourself and know that the darkness eventually goes.
Everyone has their timetable when it comes to dealing with loss and grief. No two Dark Nights of the Soul are the same. If you are experiencing a Darkness of the Soul, don’t start judging yourself or comparing yourself to others. Be kind to yourself.