Feeling lost can come from many different life experiences; loss of job, divorce, death, illness, a move. Sometimes it comes on slowly. Sometimes it hits like a wrecking ball. Most recently, for me, it came with the unexpected loss of my parents nine weeks apart. I suddenly felt (and still feel to a certain extent) like a small lost child, rather than the 50-something-year-old adult I am.
When you feel lost, it’s like a huge wave of emotion swallows you and then spits you back out, exhausted on a deserted island. You look around with wide eyes, body hurting, head reeling and think… “Oh my God. What do I do now?” These are a few things that have helped me, maybe they will help you:
1. Talk. I remember the day I looked myself in the mirror and said, “I feel so lost.” It was a harsh emotional experience, but admitting it felt so much better than trying to deny it. I also sought out close friends with whom I could verbalize it. A counselor is another good option.
2. Breathe. Every day, I became aware that I wasn’t breathing very deeply. There were times in the beginning I’d notice I was holding my breath. I started deliberately taking deep, slow breaths. It helped settle me, slow my thoughts, and ease the emotion when it got to high.
3. Don’t isolate yourself. Though I am a believer in time well spent alone, spending too much time alone increased the “lost” feeling. Connecting with others regularly was, and always is, important. I spent time in my favorite coffee shop. I could be “alone in a crowd,” or I could reach out to acquaintances, or just chat with the baristas. I let friends get me out to have lunch or dinner. Even keeping up with friends or family, living in other states was helpful. I needed times when I didn’t talk about what was happening, or how I was feeling as much as I needed time to talk about it.
4. Be open to the possibilities. Change isn’t always easy. Getting used to the new “normal” doesn’t happen overnight, and that’s a part of the “lost” feeling. Normal just isn’t anymore. Opening up to the possibilities change brings helps. That doesn’t mean rushing into everything that presents itself as possible. It does mean, be willing to see what presents. During the holidays, I took a trip to New Orleans. I would never have done that while my parents were alive because it was important to me to spend the holidays with them. Yes, the ability was bitter sweet, but it helped me be even more open to other possibilities.
5. Let go of the outcome. This lesson is one I’ve practiced for a long time, but when I’m feeling very lost, suddenly knowing the outcome seems to offer some level of control again. It would seem that knowing how things are going to turn out would lessen the lost feeling. It doesn’t really. And it closes you off to possibilities. Can’t have one without the other. And it’s OK to not know how things will go.
6. Take care of yourself. It sounds like a “no brainer,” but it’s not. In actuality, most of us don’t do what we should to support our physical body during times of crisis or stress. I had to remind myself to eat, drink water, get up and move around. And though the feeling of being lost is not as strong as it was, I still have to remind myself to eat from time to time. So, eat, drink water, move your body, and remember to get enough sleep.
7. If you think you’re depressed, seek help. I’m not ashamed to say this is one of the things I had to do. I believe everyone feels lost at some point in their lives. The depth of that feeling isn’t always the same. And if you think there’s any possibility that it might be moving into depression, seek out professional help.
Though I still feel lost, doing these things has helped me not feel so overwhelmed, and I am finding my way. If you’re feeling lost because of some shift in your life, I hope you’ll find something here that will help you. If you have found other things that work for you, please share them!
Honoring Grief by Cathy Lynn
Celebrate Life by Karin Rochelle