Tips on how to live your life after loss — sans guilt.
– KEYS SOULCARE
Grief is a common human experience. At one point or another, we will all encounter loss. That loss can come in many forms, including the death of a loved one, an epic heartbreak, or an estrangement from family or friends. As we grapple with the complex emotions that come with it all, these uncomfortable feelings are often difficult to confront, leaving many of us feeling confused about moving on. How do we live after a devastating loss? Where can we go for support? Here’s our take on finding the good and growth in grief.
1. “Moving on” isn’t required.
Contrary to popular belief, moving on doesn’t have to be a part of your journey, especially after the death of a loved one. Take it from Nora McInerny, the host behind Terrible, Thanks for Asking. “By any measure, life is really, really good, but I haven’t moved on,” Nora shared in an interview with NPR, speaking about her late husband. “When I talk about Aaron, I slip so easily into the present tense because the people we love who we’ve lost are still so present for us. So when I say, oh, Aaron is, it’s because Aaron still is. He’s indelible, and so he’s present for me.”
The pressure to be “over it” or “back to normal” can cause unnecessary stress and feelings of failure, but there is no rush. Be patient with yourself and those around you. Healing is not a linear process and accepting that you may experience feelings of sadness, regret, or longing days, months, and years following a loss can offer relief along the way.
2. Examine negative emotions.
Getting a new perspective on our uncomfortable feelings can allow us to regain a sense of self. Loss can be disorienting and feel completely out of our control. This is especially true when we are experiencing “negative” emotions — sadness, anger, loneliness — that can overwhelm us. Try to get curious about those feelings. Still sad about your breakup? Think about what you actually miss. Was it the person or the idea of being in a relationship? Was the relationship really everything that you wanted or something you were used to?
The thing about grief? As common as it is, many people don’t know how to support or even acknowledge it. Whether you’re at work or relaxing with pals, awkwardness around grief can cause social anxieties to rise. Rather than expressing your needs, you may opt to suppress them instead. Rather than pretending to be fine, ask for the company, food, space, or whatever else you are desiring.
Struggling to figure out what you to ask for? Read What’s Your Grief’s Thanks For The Offer, But I Don’t Know What I Need! Find words of affirmation and discover a new space to ground your experiences with this breakdown of secondary losses. Co-founder and Program Director of What’s Your Grief, Litsa Williams, wrote the piece to inspire you to be more authentically connected to yourself and those around you. “When you lose someone, your life is shattered. One person disappears and it can feel like everything else falls out of place,” writes Lista, “Getting support from others is not always about that primary loss…In some cases, it may be practical, logistical support you need.”