Moving Forward After Losing A Loved One

Grams Wisdom 9

My Gram and I shared a very important loss. Her eldest daughter, my Mother, had an aneurysm the day after her 72nd birthday and was gone in the blink of an eye. Leaving us to learn this lesson together. How do you move forward after losing someone you love?

I moved through the time until the funeral as if in a daze. Gram had given me my instructions the day after Mom was gone, and that carried me through. She, on the other hand, once the last guest had gone, never spoke my Mother’s name for the next 6 months.

Note: Gram and I navigated through our grief together, yet with very different approaches. I spoke frequently of my Mom, telling stories about her from my childhood, while Gram looked through photo albums with pictures of a serious faced little girl who grew up to be that woman.

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Getting over a loved one’s loss

Losing someone that you love is one of the most painful and distressing experiences that many of us will ever go through, and it’s something that other people just can’t relate to unless it has happened to them.

In the days and weeks following this hurt, it can sometimes feel as though nothing will ever be the same and as though you can never go on. It can often feel as though you shouldn’t want things to return to normal or even for yourself to be happy, as though your happiness is disrespectful to the one you’ve lost. The thought of laughing or playing again can be enough to make you cringe and maybe it was poet W.S. Merwin who said it best:

Your Absence has gone through me

Like thread through a needle.

Everything I do is stitched with its color.

So, the question you might be asking now is whether things ever will get better. How can they?

Time the great healer

The important thing to understand is that you never ‘get over’ the loss of someone you love. You will always carry the scars of that loss with you, and it will influence everything you ever say and do. It will make you more sensitive to others, it will change your idea of ‘what matters’, and you will never forget that person.

But this does not mean that you aren’t allowed to move forward with your life and that you won’t be happy again. And in fact, what you will find is that it is far from being disrespectful. Being happy is the most respectful thing you can do for the deceased.

You will know that you are coping well when you are able to remember something that your loved one said or did and smile. When you can look back on your memories of them happily and smile about it, then you can more effectively keep them alive in your mind, while moving on with your own life.

How long does this take? That depends on a lot of factors and there is no hard and fast rule. Generally, though, after a couple of months you should find that you spend a little less time focusing on the feelings of despair and that you’re able to slowly start picking up the pieces.

Keeping their memories alive

When we lose someone we love, one of the most painful things we must deal with is the knowledge that we’re not going to see them again. This is ultimately a ‘selfish’ perspective that focuses on your own feelings, but it’s also a very human response and a testament to your love for that person.

But worse than not seeing someone again, is not remembering them at all. That is why it’s important to fight the urge to ‘avoid’ painful feelings and why it’s so important to find ways that you keep their memory alive. Here are some ways you can do that.

Tell others about them

As briefly alluded to before, some people will respond to grief by shutting down and pretending it’s not there. If the memory of someone is too painful, then it can be tempting to avoid it all together.

Instead though, try to keep your loved one in mind by bringing them up in conversation. Don’t be afraid to point out how much your friend, partner, parent, or child would have loved what you’re doing, or how much you miss them. The more you talk about them, the easier it will become, and the more you’ll be able to enjoy their memory with others.

Display photos

Keeping photos of your loved one around is also a nice way to keep them in mind. Keeping them in group photos is a nice way to prevent those photos from being morose.

And consider where you’re going to keep those photos. Sometimes, it’s easy to have a photo on a desk and never to look at it. One unique idea is to keep a photo of your loved one in a drawer that you will open regularly. That way, you’ll find yourself having to look at it occasionally.

Emulate their best qualities

When someone dies, their humor, their beliefs, their good nature, and their ideas can live on in you. Try to remember the best qualities of the person that you miss and to emulate those in your own actions. If a deceased friend was notable for their enthusiasm and positivity, then try to channel a bit of positivity in your own approach to things. When you do, you’ll be keeping their spirit alive and ensuring that they made a positive contribution to your life.

I hope you have found this post useful. Please share it with anyone you feel could benefit from its message.