You might wonder how these words relate to those who are experiencing a personal crisis or grieving the loss of someone they loved. Being current exemplifies belonging to the present time and relevant is defined as being closely connected to the matter at hand. Therefore, “current and relevant” means living in the present and being applicable to life.
As forward thinking as most of us are with the abundance of electronic devices at our finger tips and information available the second we ask a question, we seem to hover in the stone age when it comes to supporting of ourselves or someone who is suffering a loss or experiencing a life-altering change. We might be good at the first encounter but after that we seem to hide, ignore or stumble. It’s not because we don’t care but rather because we are at a loss for how to behave and how to help.
There is no question that anyone who is experiencing a hardship wants to go back in time – before the diagnosis, before the accident, before the financial disruption, or before the family status change. Since that is obviously impossible, we need to maintain the forward momentum and become “current” within the situation.
In some aspects of loss, our society is slowly branching out to find the right tools, the right words and the right gestures for healing. As we continue to learn, both individually and as a community, how to cope with today’s challenges, we will embrace more current and relevant ways to help ourselves and those around us.
When faced with loss, we are often ignorant and uninformed of how to approach the challenge. Finding the current tools and relevant approaches that support you, a friend or a family member will be determined by seeking the appropriate support and education necessary to advance towards a “new normal.”
- Support Groups: At one time support groups were only for those who had dependencies to drugs and alcohol; however, now there are a variety of targeted groups. In the past, there was also a perception that attending support groups showed weakness – whereas today the notion of seeking support is widely accepted and socialized. Currently, there are a multitude of groups for each type of illness, financial distress, age-specific loss, family-member loss and more. And what is offered by the facilitator is a much more relevant approach allowing the attendees to incorporate the challenge into their daily lives rather than trying to “get over it.”
- Books and Blogs: The number of books and blogs available to readers is in great abundance today. Often those suffering from a loss don’t have the patience to read or find it difficult to relate to what has been written. As a griever and an author I can certainly relate to finding the appropriate connection to provide support. Given the vast resources available online, you can search and discover a multitude of topics that are presented in a way that works best for you.
- Peer Mentoring: Finding the person or people who have experienced a similar life challenge and allowing them to mentor you through your journey will provide the encouragement you need and answer the questions that will guide you through your ever-changing situation. For example, the challenges of losing a child today might have similar characteristics from years ago; however knowing someone who has walked a similar journey recently will provide more relevant coping tools.
- Talk and listen: In the past we were taught to keep hardships to ourselves, to pull up our bootstraps and to carry-on. While some of those sentiments are still true today, our approach to these situations has changed. For instance, we share more about our hardships than ever before with friends, co-workers and family, whether looking for advice or just releasing anxiety. Continue to leverage your circle of influence while also taking advantage of online resources, e.g., social media and chat rooms, to share your story and learn how others are dealing with similar circumstances.
- Workplace: Our workplaces vary, as do the tools available for supporting employee’s personal hardships. In recent years, Employee Assistant Programs (EAPs) are reaching past supporting addiction and have robust programs in support of grief, loss, financial advice, family caregiving and other personal hardships. The programs are confidential and part of the employee’s benefit package.
Learning to be comfortable with the change that has occurred in your life is the first step towards becoming current. And by acknowledging that your life has a new trajectory you will be able to take the steps listed above and calmly become relevant.
Rachel Kodanaz is an author, speaker and consultant who provides encouragement to those who are suffering a loss or setback. She is the author of Living with Loss, One Day at a Time, available at www.rachelkodanaz.com or www.amazon.com.