Moving Forward Following Bereavement

Grief is a state that is unique to every individual. How we deal with our grief and move on with our life is different for everyone. Depending on the relationship with the deceased, and the stage of life you are in, you may be wondering about moving forward. A person that has found themselves widowed may question a new relationship, a parent facing the loss of a child may wonder about having another baby. Moving forward following bereavement can be difficult as you not only question your own feelings, but also the attitudes and perceptions of other family members and friends. 

Processing Grief

woman that is upset

As already stated, grief is a very individual process. We recently published an article explaining the stages of grief, and how these are not necessarily linear, that you may be interested in reading. Throughout your grief journey there may be times that you wonder whether you will ever be happy again, how you can continue without the deceased, and whether you will ever to able to rebuild your life. 

Like grief itself, moving forward is very individual. What moving on looks like for a parent that has lost a child will be very different to the outlook of an elderly person that has lost their spouse. The most important thing to remember is to take time and do what feels best for you. Some tips to help you process your grief and move forward include:

  • Avoid self-blame
  • Self-care
  • Ride the rollercoaster
  • Utilise support
  • Grief doesn’t end

Avoid Self Blame 

When considering moving on, whether that be physically for example moving house, or emotionally having a new baby or starting a new relationship, it is easy to feel guilty. Returning to feelings of self-blame and guilt is common when thinking of moving forward, however, it is important to try and avoid this. Whatever, your situation it is likely that your loved one would have wanted you to be happy following their death. 

Whether you are starting to think about what the future looks like or actively taking steps to rebuild your life there are likely to be feelings of blame and guilt that surface. Acknowledging the feelings is the first step toward dealing with them. Speak to others, whether family or friends, or a professional, to help you dissect the emotions and seek reassurance that your actions are reasonable. There may be people that think you are moving on ‘too quickly’, if you are satisfied with your actions and the motives behind them it would be wise to distance yourself from those relationships, at least in the short term. 

Self Care

Sunrise yoga class

As part of the healing process, it is important to look after yourself. Prioritising self-care, from the basics including eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene, to participating in fulfilling activities and seeking social relationships are all steps to be taken when moving on from the depths of grieving. If even basic self-care is too much it is likely that you would benefit from professional support, Steve can put you in contact with relevant services, or visit your GP who should be able to offer support. 

However, with the basics covered it is likely that you will start to consider fulfilling aspects of self-care. Grief could be an ideal opportunity to do something that you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t. Beginning a new hobby for example may be a good distraction, an opportunity to meet new people that don’t stir up memories of the deceased and allow you to begin to build a new life for yourself. Exercise is important for physical and mental well-being and the period during grief may be the ideal time to embark on learning a new type of exercise, such as yoga. Alternatively, you may consider a pet, caring for a cat or dog can provide an invaluable feeling a self-worth and provide a focus.

Ride the Rollercoaster

There is no doubt that grief and moving forward is huge rollercoaster of emotions. Some days you may feel ready to move on, and others you may feel guilty and want to hide away from the world. The most important thing to remember is that all these feelings are completely normal. On the days that you feel good try and take steps to rebuild your life, on the days that you don’t it might be useful to try and consider the counter arguments to the feelings and balance the negative emotions with positive ones if possible.

Utilise Support

Whether from friends and family or a professional, it is important to seek the support of others. Isolating yourself will make moving forward more difficult. It is important to spend time reflecting on and remembering your loved one, but too much alone time can be detrimental to your grief journey and slow the process. You may find that some people are more receptive to helping you through the journey, and as previously mentioned distancing yourself from those with negative perspectives may help you to move through the grief journey and rebuild your own life at a pace that suits your individual requirements. 

Grief Doesn’t End

Recognising that grief doesn’t have an end point is an incredibly important step in the journey. You will never forget your loved one or cease to love them. Learning to live with their loss, have a self-fulfilling life, without feeling guilty or resentful is part of the journey. Moving forward following bereavement is difficult.  Finding fulfilling hobbies, a new career, and people to share this new chapter of your life with while still treasuring the memories of the deceased and recognising that both can exist in harmony is the epitome of moving on. 

You may also be interested in Jo Goodwin-Worton’s new book ‘Back to Normal’ that focuses on moving forward and rebuilding your life. 

“Experiencing a bereavement or loss can be life-changing for so many different reasons, but there is one important factor – there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and it is almost impossible to go ‘back to normal’.

‘Back to normal?’ is a collection of inspiring stories about real people and the real lives they have led following a bereavement or loss. Finding your own meaningful future is something which in time can be incredibly empowering, and for some, life-changing in so many inspiring ways. The real-life stories included in ‘Back to Normal?’ offer a sense of hope and inspiration to everyone.”

Jo is an experienced grief counsellor that can help support you throughout your grief journey and beyond if required. Contact details can be found via her website along with lots of information and resources that you may also find useful. 

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