Grief: Recognizing Where We Are

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When I was grieving, I felt my world had stopped. But life kept moving outside of the walls I built around myself. As a widower, I wanted the world to grieve, too. I was angry that the world didn’t stop.

My biggest adjustment was knowing that the world wouldn’t stop for me. It doesn’t stop for anyone who has lost a loved one. If you want to get back to your life, you must make changes and move along with it.

4 Ways to Start Moving While Grieving

  1. Decide when to maintain relationships and when to let go.
  2. Acknowledge that while grief will always be with you, you don’t have to live in grief every day. You will not forget who you’ve lost, but you have to keep living your life day-by-day.
  3. Detach from sentimental possessions and live more in the present.
  4. Start making small changes. Find happiness again because that is what your late partner would have wanted.

Relationships

Relationships can change after loss. After my wife died, my friends were still my friends. Some of her friends were still my friends. But my friendships with some married couples started to fade away.

Maintaining relationships while grieving is hard work. Your friends and family may not know how to talk to you, when to talk to you, or what to talk about. Many times it will be up to you to reach out.

Not everyone will want to talk about your grief, so you’ll have to learn which friends can talk about grief, and avoid grief talk with friends who can’t.

Memories

This year is my 50th high school reunion. I remember my classmates as they looked back then. In my memory, they are children, but I know they will look different when we meet again. We are all changed.

Memories of our past loved one work the same way. We remember what they used to look like, how they sounded, what they did. But they will be stuck at that age forever. My late wife will always be 38 years old.

You can remember the one you lost and live in the present. It is not an either/or situation. You don’t need to forget them to live in the present. It is having a memory and living in the present, simultaneously. Or you can release them to your memory where they will live forever.

Releasing your past loved one into your memory is not easy. You will always have your memories, along with the pain and pleasure associated with them, but your new life can be happy without ruminating in the painful memories you lived through.

Possessions

Detaching from personal objects can be difficult. These objects can include businesses, houses, cars, clothing, or knick knacks.

Detaching can be painful because our loved ones used these objects in their daily life. They will never be used in daily life again.

It is okay to save some objects. I saved letters and cards. It has been years since I last looked at them because I am living a new life. My present life takes precedence over the past.

Small Changes

Many changes I made after my wife passed were psychological. I needed to see myself as different. I had to change my behavior, talk differently, and smile more. Smiling was the most difficult change I made. I didn’t want to smile because I felt there wasn’t any happiness in my life. Yet, I forced myself to do it to keep moving.

The changes were mostly things like complimenting a store clerk, or changing traffic lanes without hitting the reflectors. Small goals for sure, but for me they were necessary to keep moving forward.

See yourself as single. Envision yourself with someone else. This can be difficult, but you might eventually want to be in another relationship or to remarry.

Recognize how you remember your lost loved one. Live in the present. Keep your loved one’s memories safe in your heart. They would want you to be happy. Honor their wish.