Getting Through the Hard Times

Many people are looking for something, needing value or meaning to get them through the hard times.

One of my blogging friends made this statement in a recent post and as I read it, I thought about the truth behind the words. All of us need “something” to get us through the hard times.

For many (as the writer pointed out in his post), religion answers this need. In fact, turning to “God” for support (a fruitless effort, IMO) is pretty much a “given” for countless individuals.

But then I wondered … what about those who do NOT “believe?”

Getting through difficult times isn’t easy for anyone. Nearly all of us need something or someone to “hang onto” — especially when it’s a catastrophic or life-changing event. Certainly, friends and families help, but oftentimes, they simply aren’t enough. Or, as is sometimes the case, they are part of the ones that believe “God” is the answer and you get bombarded with a plethora of scripture and/or prayers.

What then?

Please understand I’m not talking about the usual “minor tragedies” that happen in each of our lives. Certainly these events can throw us for a loop, but most of us find our way through without too many cuts and bruises. No, I’m asking about the major events … death of a loved one (breadwinner, child, parent, etc.), major catastrophe (think: Paradise, CA) that wipes out your home and belongings, a life-changing injury that takes away your ability to support yourself and/or your family, etc., etc.

As a non-believer/atheist, how would you get through times like these? You know that “thoughts and prayers” are useless, so what are the actual steps you would take when facing a serious tragedy? Where would you find the strength to move forward?

Since your response could one day help another non-believer, I hope you’ll give some serious thought to your answer. ❤


23 thoughts on “Getting Through the Hard Times

    • So you would just keep repeating “principles and values” … ??

      I was looking for something a bit more specific that might actually help other non-believers facing “hard times.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, they are directly connected with how one deals with anything in a coherent and effective and life affirming manner. That’s the home of meaning. They are the rudder and destination.

        Rather than go into specifics about what these are for me and how they allow me to receive the gifts that come with any hardship and make me more today than I was yesterday, and the wisdom to know how to make one richer/wiser for the experience, think of what it means if these central tenets of one’s life are either absent or unknown or unexamined. That’s when one truly struggles in vain and just suffers… in the same way no wind is favourable if one is lacking a rudder and destination but drifts aimlessly subject to all the vagaries and pain in this sea of life.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. You may not think so right this minute..but this tragedy can become the greatest thing ever to happen. You will find your strength to carry on and not just manage life, but excel in life all because of this. Keep your trust in yourself and your abilities to prosper. The pain is truly horrible right now, but it will become easier to bear over time. Talk about what has happened, and if your family or friends don’t want to deal with it, keep talking anyway. You have the fortitude to keep on going. I believe in you, and if you don’t quite believe in yourself (yet) use my belief to help you through. You are loved. You are respected. You are strong.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I think part of the battle is already won, when you learn to trust yourself and not an imaginary skygod; we have already learned to lean on ourselves and believe in our own strengths. You could say we’ve learned to pray to ourselves and give us the answers we need.

    Also, I think that atheists have gotten over the ‘God will provide” stuff, and are truly aware of their own abilities to handle whatever comes by. We have friends, family, spouses that fill in the spaces with comfort
    and love. But most importantly, we have ourselves.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. – Talking about things with people I trust and who care for me
    – Seeking therapy if I felt it was necessary
    – making sure I still had purpose and not letting everything fall to pieces. Maybe I think about my students…maybe I say I just need to lose 10 pounds…whatever it is have some goals to get yourself through the roughest time
    -stay in touch with nature
    -try to be good to myself

    Liked by 3 people

  4. My mother died when I wss eight years old. My father, who was already a mentally and physically abusive person, became at least twice as bad, probably much more. I barely hung on to my sanity until the very first day I could legally leave home (after a few attempts to run away, but the nice policemen always brought me back, only to be abused even more as soon as the cops closed the door as they left). Many were the times I wanted to give up, but I refused. God did nothing at all to rescue me or my siblings. I was on my own, and I knew it. I fought my father every inch of the way. I have many mental scars to prove it. But in the end I won. I always believed in myself, and picked myself up each time I was beaten down.
    Whatever that means to you, never stay down. It might take a few days to recover, but get back up as soon as you can. Show yourself how strong you can be when you need to be. That strength is already inside you, you just need to find it. And then you need to use it.
    I can see where even this may be more general than you want to hear, Nan, but I do not remember much by way of specifics. It was a long time ago. And good luck to any who need it. Life is never easy, but you are capable of surviving, and living. I know this.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My parents died when I was 68 years of age, so that were not tragic losses, and the deceases of all my other relatives and friends happened at ages over 50. Except a cousin of mine at 28 – but he lived far away and we were not close.
    Thus, being one of the few fortunate persons that don’t know what “hard times” are, I just want to say that, if I would dare to give some advice, it would be a copy of what Suze has worded nicely. The opposite of praying…

    Liked by 4 people

    • thank you for the validation. that is almost word for word what I was told by a friend when my child died, and it gave me more comfort than anything else that was said to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. In the end there is no one but yourself. Shock of course. Tragedy, whatever… Facing the reality of the situation and acting, doing something to restore order! Acceptance and looking to the future. GROG

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Without getting into the unpleasant details, I faced a few crises in my life one of which nearly ended my life. In each case, I’m sorry to say that family and friends were of little to no help and at times even made the situation worse. So, I was confronted with hard choices – either find the strength within myself to persevere or succumb to the crisis. Fortunately, I both liked and respected myself sufficiently to make the right choice.

    I also think that my military experience helped. It forced me to see my strengths and weaknesses very clearly. It put me in difficult situations which tested my will. I learned more about myself in the Army than at any other time.

    Although this never happened, but had a religious person tried to exploit my misfortune in an attempt to convert me to their faith, I might have punched them out or worse. What’s that old saying? “Let sleeping dogs lay.”

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I’ve never found “value and meaning” to be of much use. For the majority of hard times (job loss or medical issues and suchlike), what’s really needed to survive them is money.

    For the most terrible situations of all, the losses more profound than anything monetary can deal with, I’ve found professional help to be of value. I’ve actually been in a situation causing me severe emotional stress for more than eight years now. During that time, I’ve been going to a professional counselor. No amount of philosophical stuff could have helped anything like as much as the insights she helped me achieve about my specific situation and how it’s affecting me. Several years ago there was a period when things got so bad that I became seriously suicidal. If I hadn’t had my counselor and had depended on values, meaning, principles, etc. to get me through that, I really don’t think I would still be here today.

    Every person’s situation is different. Get someone with training in helping people get through their problems, who can adapt those skill to your specific issues.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I surprise myself by actually agreeing with Tildeb when he writes “think of what it means if these central tenets of one’s life are either absent or unknown or unexamined” and “no wind is favourable if one is lacking a rudder and destination but drifts aimlessly subject to all the vagaries and pain in this sea of life”. I’d probably express it in more spiritual or religious terms but that’s my personal preference.

    In times of extreme loss, I know many find comfort in a community of people who hold similar values, and perhaps religious people have an advantage here, as they are more likely to form closer personal bonds with their shared beliefs than individuals in non-religious settings. This is an observation on my part and may not be universally applicable.

    I’m not convinced that thoughts and prayers are useless, not because they’ll persuade a deity to act, but because if they are sincere, what it causes you to do. Perhaps these to quotes that I’ve known practically my entire life might explain it:
    “There is little point in praying to be enabled to overcome some temptation, and then putting oneself in the very position in which the temptation can exert all its fascination. There is little point in praying that the sorrowing may be comforted and the lonely cheered, unless we ourselves set out to bring comfort and cheer to the sad and neglected in our own surroundings. There is little point in praying for our home and for our loved ones, and in going on being as selfish and inconsiderate as we have been. Prayer would be an evil rather than a blessing if it were only a way of getting God to do what we ourselves will not make the effort to do.” Elisabeth Holmgaard, 1984
    “The sick and those caring for them have need of our prayers. But let us not imagine … that a few sentimental good wishes from a distance are all that is needed. Whenever we intercede in prayer we must be prepared for an answer which places a practical obligation upon us. A prayer is always a commitment.Thomas F Green, 1952

    Liked by 2 people

    • While I personally feel that tildeb is rather “scholarly” in his response, I’m sure his approach appeals to others. As has been said many times and in many ways … we’re all different.

      I did appreciate the two quotes you offered, Barry. If one is going to “pray” then most definitely it needs to be followed up by personal action. Unfortunately in too many cases, the most that is offered is the prayer.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Gratitude. Six years ago I became very ill. I had to retire early from a job I loved. I had just gotten a big promotion. I was finally making a good salary. I had just bought a home the year before, and was so excited about fixing it up to my taste, planting a garden, etc.

    From being an active working person with friends and volunteer activities and fun, I became an isolated sick person, stuck in my house alone.

    My life had been hard. I worked to overcome that to craft the life I wanted. Then it was snatched away, and I was back to a hard life again.

    So, I started over. I had experience “rising from the ashes”, as it were. I believe with all my heart that life is spin. You must change the story you tell yourself every moment.

    Yep, my life was different. It wasn’t what I planned. Ok. So, what is good now? Well, I have a roof over my head, and a fridge full of food. I have sparking clean water anytime I turn on the tap. I have my pets and my friends and day after day of freedom to read, or draw or craft or make new friends on the internet. I have the sum total of human knowledge (and some hilarious cat videos) to peruse at my leisure on the web.

    When I bought my house, I started a ritual. I would make coffee and briefly each morning stand at my window looking out into the yard. I would think about how lucky I was to have the good things in my life. I still do that every day. When I had to go to the hospital, I took a picture out my window on my phone, so I could continue my routine there.

    My life is different. I was a scientist, figuring out the secrets of the Universe. I felt so useless after I lost that. So I started keeping a journal titled “Done”. Each day I write down the things I accomplished. It’s basic now. I took out the trash, walked the dogs, made real coffee. On a good day I can write down that I mentored someone at work over the phone, or encouraged a friend who was down. In between the daily entries, I put quotes that encourage me. I’m partial to the Stoics; Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus,…

    I also keep a journal I called “Oh Happy Day”. Each evening I write down the good things that happened; a friend called or I made a delicious cup of coffee, a neighbor brought over food, or I watched a terrific movie. Every day’s entries start with “snuggled with pets”.

    When I was working, I started a yearly volunteer effort to help kids. The last four year, I have run that completely from my couch, by phone and email. Even stuck at home, you can make life better for others. Leave an appreciative comment on a blog post you enjoyed. Vote. Write letters to Congress. Get a pen pal.

    So my advice is, sift through the rubble after a catastrophic life event. Save what you can. Then, as long as you’re still alive, you can figure out how to get some happiness into each day. You just have to look for it and make it the focus of your attention.

    Thank you for coming to my TED talk. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • SR, thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story. And even though you’ve found a way around and through your unfortunate circumstances, I’m sorry it has to be this way.

      Nevertheless, you ARE an inspiration … and I thoroughly enjoyed your “TED talk.”


      • I’m really sorry. I was trying to be funny. Whenever I find myself going on and on about something, I wrap it up by saying “Thank you for coming to my TED talk.”
        No real TED talk. I’m not that interesting!! Sorry for the confusion.

        Liked by 1 person

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