Moving On

How to find out there's life after loss.

by Lonna Enox

Moving ahead after any great loss requires a plan. You must find new dreams, look at new options, and paint a new picture on your life’s “canvas.” But just as we are all individuals, the steps as well as the length of time for each step will vary. Here are some options you can try.

Journaling is one. Your journal may be filled with your thoughts and feelings, allowing you to vent without reservation. It is also handy to have beside your bed for the dreams that often accompany a great loss. When you wake from the dream, write it down. This often will not only soothe your feelings but also allow you to watch the progress of your healing. Because of the parental feelings where we protect our children, we feel a helplessness at death. When you read through your journal occasionally, you will see those feelings that you may not be able to express to others. When you do, you can put them into perspective and turn them loose.

Support groups are another option. Your doctor may know of one in your area. If not, then search for groups online. All of us experience grief, but different types of grief give us different reactions. For example, a group of parents who have lost children, particularly in the same way you lost yours, will have a special bond with you.

Beginning a new dream is a positive step ahead. It is sometimes more difficult after a death; the timing will be different for each couple. The new dream may be a home improvement project that will involve physical exercise and family involvement. It may be enrolling in a college course, joining a health club and exercise group, or taking up a new interest. Whatever the dream is, it will move your focus from what you had planned and help you look to another plan.

Finding a way to remember is another part of grieving. We often feel guilt at moving on and therefore attempt to cling to our grief. But we can turn loose when we make a positive memory. You may want to participate in a charitable activity each year, volunteer at an organization, or make a one-time memorial contribution to a cause you believe in.

Quiet time plays an important role in grieving. Sometimes it can be a few minutes watching the sunrise and sipping a cup of hot tea, or perhaps walking. You can draw comfort from nature. As time passes, you’ll discover that your quiet time, while reflective, will not fill itself with unhappy thoughts or tears but provide strength and calm.

Books can help you understand your feelings. Many of them give insights into grief and provide inspiration and comfort. Look at your church library or a Christian bookstore. Of course, the Bible is the greatest book of all. As you spend time reading it, mark passages that touch your heart and read them during your quiet times.

Professional help is available if you find yourself not wanting to get out of bed or crying for long periods. Your doctor is the best resource, but a pastor or church counseling group may also be a good choice. Reach out instead of curling in: That’s the most important part of moving on. Just as our bodies need healing after an illness, so our hearts need healing after a death. If you can’t heal on your own, you may need a helping hand.

You may have other ideas that will work to pull you out of grief. Follow them. The important thing isn’t the path you select but your commitment to keep moving toward healing.