How Pain, Heartache and Loss Can Make You Better


Pain and loss is a reality that we all have to deal with in our lives from time to time. It can control our lives and bring us down, or it can actually cause us to change in good ways and make us better.

It’s easy for us to want to push aside our negative feelings and not acknowledge their existence. We want to feel good and be happy all of the time.

And there’s nothing wrong with wanting happiness.

But what if when pain, heartache, or loss strike us, they can actually change us to make us better people? And what if it can help us deal better with future occurrences of pain?

Back in 2007 on the day after Christmas, I lost my best friend of many years to a brain tumor. Naturally, much grief and pain followed for quite some time. I became hopeless, I felt powerless, and I felt overwhelmed.

I also felt confused and I started wondering why these sorts of things happen.

At one point I could tell that these feelings were beginning to have a solid grip on my life. They were able to dictate how I acted and felt about similar situations.

That’s when I realized that I needed to make some positive changes, despite such negative circumstances.

Realize that good comes out of all bad

This is probably the first thing that helped me to deal with my grief and heartache. Realizing that good can come out of bad situations is a powerful realization.

I said to myself there must be a reason that humans feel such horrible feelings.

Though these feelings are considered ‘bad’ and ‘negative,’ they are really our allies.

Grieving and heartache means we are filled with love

It reminds us of how much we love others, which triumphs over all negative feelings. For most of us negative feelings are temporary, and feelings of love for our friends and family are permanent. Realizing this helped me in dealing with the loss of my best friend. It reminded me that I loved him dearly, which brought me much comfort. I would be very worried had I not felt grief after his death. That would’ve meant that I didn’t love him like a friend. But the grief reminded me otherwise. This is one of the ways good things come out of bad situations.

By accepting these feelings instead of wanting to push them aside, we are opening ourselves to more love and good feelings. Using this fact will help us to grow, even during our heartache. It will also prepare us in dealing with future situations that bring sorrow.

Pain and sorrow are a transition to new opportunities

We know that life changes rapidly and unexpectedly. My life instantly changed the moment I found out of my friend’s passing. At one point I felt hopeless. But when I decided to use those feelings to my advantage, I flipped them on their head.

Dealing with loss is a period of transition. But it is a period of transition to new and greater things. During my period of grief, I transitioned to a period of personal growth. I was able to easily reach out to my friends and family who were experiencing the same feelings.

By doing this not only did I grow as a person, it made the process much easier and quicker for all of us. We were able to grow together. Keeping this mentality helped me to realize that it’s ok to feel these feelings instead of wanting to push them aside so quickly. Had I pushed them aside, I would’ve crawled up in a corner and not had the opportunity to grow closer to my friends and family. I would’ve missed out on the opportunity to grow.

Learn to welcome pain, heartache, and loss

It sounds kind of strange that I’m saying that we should welcome the pain. Who wants to welcome any kind of pain? Welcoming in this context simply means acceptance.

By welcoming the pain, sorrow, and loss we are accepting that it’s there. By acknowledging its existence, we are allowing ourselves to begin the process of getting through the transition phase.

Grieving allows you to get more in touch with yourself

Most people would want to get rid of the bad feelings as quickly as possible in order to jump right back to happiness. We’ll distract ourselves any which way like connecting more to our computers and phones, or maybe even resort to drug and alcohol abuse.

The reason I welcomed the grief and sorrow over the death of my friend is because it really helped me to be more in touch with myself and know myself better. Sure I could’ve distracted myself however I could, but looking into myself is another way to help me grow.

No one wants to feel these feelings, but when they do come (because they will) they can really help you to be more in touch with yourself, which leads to more learning and greater opportunities.

When it’s over, you will have a new and better outlook on life

Though I still have a hard time when I think about my friend, I have a different outlook on life. Here are some things that will help you turn bad times into an opportunity to get more out of your life:

  • Appreciate your loved ones more. Every relationship has its ups and downs. There are the occasional times when we fight with each other. But in the end you’re still friends. You never know when life will make a sudden change. One thing my friend’s passing helped to realize is that whenever I’m angry with any of my friends or family, I think about my best friend and realize that life is too valuable and short to be spending time fighting. I’d rather spend that time helping myself to grow as well as others.
  • Appreciate your own life. Sometimes we take our own lives for granted. Like
    maybe spending too much time watching TV or lying around. My best friend’s life was cut short. This could happen to any of us. I realized that I should take advantage of any opportunity I have to be more productive and better my relationships and myself.
  • Realize your strength. I felt weak at the time of my friend’s death because I
    decided to let my feelings control me. When I made the decision to turn that around and instead control my feelings, I realized how much strength I had. Growing as a person also means growing stronger. By accepting the hurt, going through the transition, and finally getting over it, you will have come out a much stronger person. This strength is not only beneficial to you, but it will help you to be strong for those who are going through rough times.

Pain, heartache and loss will always be a part of our lives and is sometimes unavoidable. But I hope that we can all realize the good that can still come out these times. It’s up to you to make the change and take the reigns to your feelings. But when you do, it will surely change your life for the better.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

15 thoughts on “How Pain, Heartache and Loss Can Make You Better”

  1. Hello Gabe,

    This post bought a tear to my eye. Several years ago I lost someone very close, and I’m not proud to admit that my response was to get very drunk. And stay that way for a week. Yes I was completly pushing my feelings aside, it just seemed they were too raw to deal with.
    However after a week of hangovers I realised if I didn’t deal with things they wouldn’t go away, so I got my act together and started the grieving process. And it is a process, I like what you said about realising that pain, heartache and loss are part of life, it took me a long time to realise this and only then could I move forward.
    Since then I have been through other very tough times and I agree, we are all stronger than we know. It takes tough times or pain to bring it home that we are capable of getting through anything.

  2. Hi Katie,

    First of all, I’m sorry for your loss. I know exactly how you feel, and I know it is never easy to deal with, but at least we’re not alone.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad that my post touched you in a positive way. But going through these hard times makes us even stronger. Even the tough times can help us to grow.

  3. Hi Gabe,

    First of all, I am stunned. This is one of the best blog posts I’ve read in a long time. I read this one twice and I rarely do that. You really struck a chord with me. So many blogs out there do not really discuss grief and loss. I should know I’ve scoured so many blogs looking for this specific topic only to be let down. I lost my step father last year to lung cancer. He was only 63. He was my best friend and his absence has left me gutted. I’ve read numerous books about grief and how to deal with loss. But your post really touched me. I appreciate you reminding me that positve change can come out of negative circumstances. Right now I’m thinking about all the positve things that have happened to me since my stepdad’s death. I’ve made a point to be more loving to my family. I’ve started seeing an incredible therepist whose wisdom has changed my life. I don’t stress over little things anymore, because what does it all matter anyway. I’ve learned the importance of legacy. My stepdad touched so many lives. People remember him and will always be talking about him even decades after his death. He left a very strong footprint. I want to have a legacy too. It’s amazing what you start thinking about after someone you love and depend on has gone away. So thank you for your blog post, Gabe. It is very profound. I’m printing it out as we speak!!

    1. Dandy, thank you so much! I’m really glad you found a lot of meaning in this post! :)

      I figured since we all deal with loss and pain, why not make good things come out of it?

      I’m glad that you don’t stress over little things anymore. Sometimes doing so sort of gets in the way of living our lives to the fullest. The people that we have loved and lost have such a great impact on our lives, even after their departure, and that’s what’s important. When I think about my best friend I think about the positive impact he had in so many people’s lives, especially my life.

      You’re very welcome for the post, and thank YOU for sharing this comment with us!

  4. This bought back memories of the loss I experienced when my brother died from cancer. After his death, my husband and I sat down and decided to make changes to our lives – that we were going to live each day as a special day, and not wait until we had time, more money or our children had grown up.

    That was 8 years ago, and my life is very different now because of the decisions we made then.

    Great post, and a fantastic way to view our lives.

    1. Thanks for the comment Brenda. I’m glad that you guys decided to make some positive changes despite such negative circumstances because you’re right, every day is a special day.

  5. Thanks for your article.
    I just posted a reflection about grownup labeling my brother’s actions towards my sister. For my brother to be a different person it took my mother to die. My mother was hit by a car, and died immediately. It was horrible pain for all of us. Since my mom’s absence my brother has changed. it took him a while to grieve the loss of my mom. We all suffer, but my brother took a while to recover from the pain.

  6. I believe the most difficult thing is to understand and accept that something bad can happen to all of us. When it happens, it is very human to ask why this happened to us or to someone from our family. But there is no answer to this and keeping asking the same question makes a recovery extremely difficult. What might help is to realize that maybe it was meant to happen and there was nothing that we could do to prevent it. I know this sounds easier than it is in reality but it helped me a lot.

  7. Good point Robert. Some things are meant to happen, but good can come out of it. Sometimes we have to realize that there are not answers to every question that we have.


  8. HI there Gabe,
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this article…. Im a 30 yr old divorced woman, my ex husband remarried quicky as has little by little ripped me out of our children lives…. i havent spoken with them for over 8 months and I havent seen them for over a year… he wont let me speak with them and tells them I havent tried to reach them…. he has a new happy family now and hes made it clear that Im not only disposable but that my children dont need me and are forgetting me… Im ashamed to say that instead of fighting and hiring a lawyer during the last year I have lost everything… my home… job…. car and hope for life……I recently tried to take my life …. and reading this article has helped me tremendously…. once again thank you for your blog… its helping me heal and take control of my life….
    thank you

    1. Hello Z,

      I’m terribly sorry to hear about your loss. I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through. I thank you for having the courage to share your story. That must’ve been pretty difficult, but thank you. It is very humbling to know that my article has helped you to heal and take control of your life. We all go through tough times, but I know that we all have it within ourselves to pull through! Thanks again and if there’s anything else I can do to help, I’d be more than happy to! :)


    2. Karma will get him, dont worry you will be fine….when my brother died from an overdose 2 years agos i became very depressed and could barely work and now i am doing sooo much better and i am so much stronger. for months would think about taking me my life because i was hurting so bad, but it will pass. sometimes you just dont have energy to fight but you will get through it. your ex will get his because you should never treat anyone like he has. I am sure his marriage is strained, you will get the last laugh!

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