Houston, we have a problem!

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The words spoken by Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert, were “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here”. With these words, the astronauts communicated their discovery of the explosion that crippled their spacecraft. In the 1995 film, the actual quote was shortened to “Houston, we have a problem”. They then went on to identify the current situation; the problem they had.

Here are baby steps toward recovery from a loss:

(1) Acknowledge that you realize there is a problem with your recovery progress.

(2) Identify the loss where you are stuck.

(3) Take positive action to reach out to a grief recovery partner.

Let’s talk about each of these steps.

First of all, make the choice to recover from losses. 

Your loss may involve death or divorce or other disasters — but a good discussion starter is “What do you wish had been different, better, or more?” Identify your regrets in these three areas. 

James and Friedman in their Grief Recovery Handbook remind us that “If we do not identify different, better, or more — we begin to make the death or other loss responsible for how bad we feel. As long as we believe that someone or something else is responsible, we’re unable to recover.”

Secondly, specifically, identify where you are stuck in your emotional recovery.

Often it is not what happens to us, but what happens to what happens to us that tells our life’s story! Are you stuck in a defeatist attitude or action? 

Let me ask you a question: What ruins the picnic? Is it the rain — or one’s attitude toward the rain? What undeniably appears can cancel our picnic plans or change our plans to dance in the downpour! 

Years ago, I was directing a week of summer camp for kids from our church. One afternoon, about rest time, it came a gulley-washer rain. No thunder. No lightning. Just rain. One of the kids asked me, “Mr. Doug, can we go play in the rain?” Thank the Lord I had the good sense to say, “Of course!” I hope she and all the kids never forgot how we made a positive and fun thing out of a bad situation.

We’ve all had things that have happened to us that we’d like to redo. But, the truth is that there is no time machine where we can go back into the past and specifically redo our done and undone things. However, we can begin to take responsibility for our current reactions to what has happened to us in the past. Get rid of the victim mentality!

Thirdly, get a partner who will take their losses and walk the journey to recovery with you! It may look like reading a book or listening to a speaker or participating in a grief recovery workshop. It may be finding a friend or a professional counselor who will walk the road to recovery with you.

“Houston, we have a problem” may next need to be said out loud when we look into the mirror.

Picture of Doug Greenway

Doug Greenway

These blog articles are written by the retired minister and former educator and counselor, Doug Greenway. He'd love to hear from you with your comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics. You may reach Doug at doug_greenway@yahoo.com.

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