Letting Go and Moving On

After experiencing a major loss, it is sometimes difficult to move on with your life. Before you can look ahead to a brighter future, you need to learn to let go of your painful past. The loss can involve a break up with someone you care deeply about, a job loss, the death of a pet, or the death of a loved one. Whatever you do, don’t give up on the idea that the future can be hopeful.
Without realizing it, you may sometimes do things that jeopardize, rather than help your situation. Here are three things that can cause you to remain stuck in your grief.
1. Allowing yourself to become “swallowed up” by your grief. Spending all your time and energy on grieving your loss will drain away your inner resources, preventing any forward movement. A broken relationship that involves a partner or a friend or the loss of a job need to be placed in perspective so that life can move forward. Even with the death of a loved one, although a devastating loss, there needs to be a sense of hope that life can go on.
2. Avoiding your grief. The opposite of dwelling on your grief is to attempt to avoid it altogether. This basically involves shutting down all your emotions. Going through life in a “numbed” state means that you have no capacity for happy feelings either. When you try to avoid, or shut down your grief, you run the risk of having it erupt at inopportune times. Grief that is not expressed tends to linger in an unresolved state. Be attuned to your feelings of grief, but don't dwell on your sadness.
3. Isolating yourself. Being overwhelmed with grief can sometimes lead to withdrawal from any contact with friends and family. This is a time when you need your social connections the most. There is a risk that friends or family may inadvertently say or do things that don’t feel supportive. Don’t allow minor slip-ups to overshadow the positive support that you receive from them.
Here are some ways to move forward with your grief:
1. Keep doing the things you have always found to be enjoyable. More than ever, you need fun and enjoyable activities that distract you from your grief. There is comfort in the familiar. However, this may also be a time to incorporate a new activity. Perhaps your community center runs programs where you can learn a new skill or activity. You might also find it helpful to participate in a group of people who are also experiencing similar grief.
2. Keep physically active. There is a great array of physical activities to keep you moving. Brisk exercise releases endorphins that have a natural “feel good” effect. Individual preference is the most significant factor in your choice of activity. Many people find that walking 30 or more minutes a day is a simple yet very beneficial form of exercise.
3. Give of yourself. Volunteering can be of greater benefit to you than to the organization or individual you are serving. The act of giving can be a positive way to take the focus off your own sadness while at the same time making a positive difference. Your church, local community center, hospital or any organization of your choice offer volunteer opportunities.
4. Participate in daily spiritual activities. Read an inspirational book or magazine, do yoga or Tai Chi, meditate, journal, be involved in church activities. Share your ideas and reflections with a like minded friend.
5. Talk about your grief. Talking to friends and family about your grief is a good place to start. Sometimes they can become overwhelmed and at a loss about how to support you. When this happens, it is a good idea to seek out a trusted grief counsellor or join a grief support group. It can be very validating and healing to share your story with a professional who has training and experience in supporting people who are grieving.

Although loss and grief are among the most painful experiences you can encounter, you need not stay “stuck” on a treadmill of overwhelming negative emotions. By following some of the positive actions that have been suggested in this article, you can gradually learn to let go, and move forward in your grief.

Author's Bio: 

Grace Tallman, Bio
Passionately compassionate for people living with grief
Grace received her nursing degree from UWO and has been a practicing RN for many years. She has worked in a large variety of nursing specialties. Her extensive medical background allows her to understand illness and the dying process, and the very real physical manifestations of grief and depression
As a hospital chaplain for 8 years, she compassionately and actively listened to deeply hear people’s stories of loss and pain. She has been honoured to be part of the intimate journey of life with many individuals and families who were facing death and serious illness.
Grace recently graduated with a Certificate in Grief and Bereavement from King’s College at UWO. This extensive training program prepared her to work with people during the difficult stages of dying and grief. As a facilitator Grace has abundant experience in providing a safe and therapeutic environment to assist people to process their grief in a group setting. She has also developed and facilitated several training programs to help groups of volunteers gain insight and skill in working with dying and bereaved individuals.