Survive-Alive-Thrive (S-A-T) is a 3 stage method helps you on your healing journey through loss and brokenness, so you can discover hope and happiness again. Based on 1st-hand, real life stories recounted and shared by hundreds of people just like you, this 3 stage model is experiential in nature, and approaches the loss journey with the goal to help us better understand the feelings and emotions we go through when losing someone we love.
The S-A-T model of loss recovery is a way to better understand the dynamic interaction between a loss impact, our own ways of processing loss, balancing life’s responsibilities, and walking the road to even enjoying life again! Because we are all unique, this revolutionary model will help you connect with and identify your own unique response to loss. Each stage of the S-A-T approach contains multiple emotional responses and sometimes those stages can even overlap each other. This is fundamentally very different from other linear, single emotion “check the box” progressive healing models.
So what does this actually mean? It means, we are able to identify with and be comforted by the understanding that going thru a variety of emotions at the same time is normal and even very common following loss. It is through this understanding we are able feel less anxious about how we are responding along this emotional journey.
Experts agree, to successfully move forward in life, it is helpful to first know where you are. Survive-Alive-Thrive™ equips you with helpful benchmarks and navigation tools to not only determine where you are, but help prepare you for the journey ahead.
At the heart of the SURVIVE-ALIVE-THRIVE model is the point of impact–the moment your world changes. The most intense and turbulent times following loss are those closest to the point of impact.
This is the season when we’re operating in survival mode—when our heart, mind, and soul are in triage. As such, the first circle in the inter-connective model represents the SURVIVE stage. This is the time frame immediately following our loss when we’re still shaking from the impact.
Because it is closest to the initial event, this is where you likely feel the most concentrated force of emotions. Psychologists define this stage as experiencing and many people I have spoken with have referred to it as a shellshock period, when they were simply trying to cope with their loss and brokenness one moment to the next, just as I was following Victoria’s death. Regardless of how they manifest in your life, we typically feel the most intense emotions at this stage. For now, the important thing to remember is that this is not what your life will look like forever; this is just what it looks like now.
The next circle in the model represents the ALIVE stage, in which the heartache and soul pain experienced so intensely in the Survive stage is transitioning to provide you with the emotional elbow room to start processing your loss.
Although life oftentimes requires we reengage far before we feel emotionally ready, we are emerging from the survival experience and trying to cope with life’s demands. At some point in this stage, you can begin to understand and address your grief while dealing with the responsibilities and obligations of the outside world. Psychologists refer to this stage asintegrated grief, and it will likely come slowly and gradually. There is not a fixed time frame for your grief process to evolve from the Survive to Alive stages, and you should not feel pressure to meet an arbitrary deadline.
In fact, the integrated circles of the Survive-Alive-Thrive model serve to illustrate that you may coexist in each season for a period of time or have feelings associated with the Survive stage one day and the Alive stage on another, as your grief transitions from one season to the next.
The ALIVE stage doesn’t mean your emotional pain is gone or healed; rather, it is a time when you are resuming activities such as returning to work, church, or school and generally getting back into the routines of life while simultaneously working through the emotional challenges you’ve experienced from loss.
It’s important to note that this transition does not mean you are attempting to forget the person you have lost or that you’re ignoring whatever traumatic event has happened. Whether you’ve suffered the death of a loved one or your life has been turned upside down by a financial catastrophe, medical setback, or the end of a relationship, balancing and reintegrating life responsibilities is emotionally exhausting, stressful, and demanding. Either way, the solution is certainly not putting on a fake happy face and pretending everything’s all right. We are acutely aware that everything is the same and that our life has, indeed, changed. Here, then, is the season of our grief process when we are actively caring for and intentionally tending to our emotional, mental, and physical health while also figuring out our place in this strange new world.
Can you experience a happy, giving, joyful life after experiencing a traumatic loss? The answer is yes. Yes, you can.
The outermost circle of the interconnected stages, is the Thrive stage, and this represents the season when our loss—which will always be part of our story—now coexists with a new sense of hope and resolve. This part of the journey is characterized by the realization that you’re not just living, but you’re actually enjoying your life again. You may have reengaged with close friends or developed new and rich relationships—maybe even a new love interest if you’ve lost a spouse or been divorced. You have responsibilities and may be enjoying hobbies, commitments, and a new schedule. You can think and talk about the person you lost and smile, remembering the good times without mourning their loss all over again. You’re able to transcend the frustrations of caring for a family member and, instead, experience the joy and privilege of serving the needs of someone you love. You can re-experience emotional responses such as sadness in a healthy and appropriate manner when reflecting on your loss or when encountering a poignant reminder such as an anniversary date or holiday memory. And you are able to reflect on the trauma in your past without feeling paralyzing or debilitating stress and anxiety that you may have experienced when much closer to the initial impact. In short, you are living a full and rewarding life.
A journey awaits where you’re not just living, but enjoying life again.
Visit the Resource Center to go deeper as you explore popular topics and practical tips to help you navigate your the stage pf your journey, or simply discover what has helped so many others facing similar circumstances.