No one knew what to do with me. The chaplain gave me hand-outs. The church people force-fed me Bible verses. My friends tried to understand (some of them), but simply could not. My husband’s patience had run low. I was grieving. Mourning, and doubled over in pain. I felt dead from the all the death and uncertain about whether or not I even wanted to live. Sadly, I’m afraid that distraught people have a way of attracting empathy for only a short time.

As I travel and speak on radio and TV about my experience of grief, losing and regaining my faith, and finding my way out of suicidal depression, one question is posed over and over again: What do I do with my pain? It’s a strange question in a way. Surely, we could never simply get rid of our heartbreak! You don’t “get over” great hardship or loss. But we can all relearn how to live in light of our new reality. Although grief is not a problem to be solved, I do offer 3 suggestions for regaining optimism, hope, and strength after a traumatic event.

1) Tell the story of difficulty to as many caring, non-judgmental, and trustworthy people as possible. Telling your story--what happened, how it all went down, how you felt about it then, how you feel about it now, will truly help heal you. Even if the listener doesn't respond with the competency of a trained professional, you will gain understanding about what happened and understand yourself better every time you open up. If you are part of a local and healthy church, there should be someone there who can help you--a pastor, counselor, or grief group. It's a great idea to hire a professional counselor. Be sure that the one you choose holds beliefs you agree with. For example, you might not want to see a counselor that recommends you contact and commune with the dead if you hold to religious beliefs that forbid such actions. Let me be clear: Counselors are not for the weak! They are for the strong who want to get stronger. Although you might not recognize your own abilities right now, you are strong. You would have never survived all you've endured if you were truly incompetent.

2) Stop playing The Blame Game. Blaming God, self, and others holds us hostage and keeps us from healing our wounds. The important task of facing our loss and new realities cannot freely occur when blame and “Why?” are foremost in the survivor’s mind. When we focus on “Why?” we take our minds off of what happened—we leave the reality of our loss and instead focus on the blame—that blame will inevitably give birth to anger. We will wind up angry with ourselves, angry with another person, angry at life in general, and finally, we’ll wind up feeling disillusioned with God. The typical result is that we go to church on Sunday, we know in our minds that God loves us, but we can’t feel God’s love in our hearts. We sing praise songs but our hearts no longer feel like praising. And this happens NOT because we are terribly sinful people who need to be beaten over the head with our Bibles. No, it happens, I believe, primarily because we have reached the DEAD END—that place where blame ultimately leaves us—empty, numb, sad, and confused. If something can be done, do it. Otherwise, what is done is done. There’s no point in dousing shame upon an open wound.

3) Re-examine your beliefs. If you are like most who suffer great hardship, you will at some point have serious doubts about God and His relationship to suffering. It isn't uncommon for hurting people to view God as the allower or cause of their pain. Even when the difficulty is seen as "part of God's plan" or "good in disguise," feelings of sadness remain. Underneath the positive self-talk, there resides a deep anger toward God and anxiety about what the future holds. Suicidologists tell us that one of the key factors that pushes some to commit suicide is a fatalistic outlook on life--the belief that what will be will be and there isn't much we can do about many problems. Sadly, even as a Pastor's Wife, lay leader, and counselor, I find traces of fatalism within the Christian community. Unfortunately, a tainted view of God, will eventually lessen our ability to thrive. I recommend a thorough reading of the entire Bible, focusing on the key texts that relate to suffering; you'll need an NASB Bible (the most literal) and/or a computer program that can translate the texts--such as BibleWorks. This is the process I went through that ultimately ended my 20 year battle with suicidal depression.

Unfortunately, we all get hurt in life. Some get whacked around a little while others get beaten down every time they stand up. The road to healing is soggy and wet. Tears bring eventual relief when coupled with a new understanding of God's love and character. Lastly and finally, you can make it! I have faith in you!

Author's Bio: 

Jennifer Brost is a Pastor's Wife, mother of 2, author of "How I Suffered from My Theology: and regained my faith"
(, and professional speaker. She resides in Iowa.