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Will I ever get over the loss?

This may be the most asked question among people that have experienced a significant death in their life. The pain can be crippling and it's hard to think it's going to change. You need to believe that it won't feel like this forever.

To answer the question, you first need to establish what the mean when you say 'get over'. What is it you are looking for?

For many, to 'get over' something means to reach a point where it no longer matters. It

doesn't impact them any longer and everything is now fine. I once stepped in a puddle and the water filled my shoe. It felt pretty yucky and for a period of time, walking around was pretty unpleasant. I was annoyed with myself for stepping in it but eventually I 'got over it'. Time passed, things changed and the issue was no longer a problem.

So does this very simplified example suggest that all you need to 'get over' a loss is to let enough time pass, believing that things will change naturally on their own and you will feel much better?

Well, not really.

I 'got over' stepping in the puddle because there was no long lasting damage, I didn't have anything to make sense of, I had no reason to think it would affect me forever. I would simply be more cautious in future and life did return back to normal. I really was 'over it'. I no longer cared that it happened.

This is the problem in asking yourself whether you will ever 'get over' your loss. It's as if you are asking yourself whether there will ever be a time when you don't care about it. To which, the answer is quite likely to be no. You will always care. This leaves you in a mental state where you have convinced yourself you will always feel the way you do.

Similarly, the same can be said for the phrase 'move on' when it comes to dealing with loss. You may feel you should 'move on'. You may want to 'move on'. People may even tell you that you should 'move on'.

Again, for many people, this phrase conjures up images that may not be helpful when it comes to feeling that things could get better. A lot of people I have spoken to say that 'moving on' for them, sounds like you need to make some sort of movement 'away from' the person that has died. Almost as if you are trying to leave them behind. That idea is enough to make some people recoil because it is the last thing they want to do.

I have noticed that many people prefer the phrase 'moving forward' when it comes to dealing with loss. They say it sounds more like a situation where thy can make some sort of progress but still take things with them that keep them connected to the person they have lost. This seems like a much more realistic and even healthier approach.

The person you have lost was absolutely a part of who you were. They influenced your life and the person you have become. Maybe they enriched your life. Made you laugh, feel loved and safe. Why on earth would you want to leave all of that behind and 'move on'. Doesn't it sound far better to decide that the parts of them that can still help you, such as the memories, the lessons they taught you, the attitudes and the approach to life, will remain with you. You will continue to have them as part of you and now move forwards while retaining those parts of that person. You are not leaving them behind. You are taking them with you.

Over time, as your new life begins to form and you start to make sense of what this new normality means, you continue to evaluate which parts of that person give you the most benefit and you adjust accordingly. This process takes time and will absolutely involve heartache, sadness, anger, despair and so many other strong emotions.

But to deal with loss, at some point, there needs to be a glimmer of light that makes you believe it's going to be ok. You need to have optimism, no matter how miniscule.

Approaching your grief in terms of finding ways to move forwards seems to be more helpful to a lot of people than the task of trying to figure out how to 'get over it'.

The simple fact is, if you see 'getting over it' as 'no longer caring', then it may never happen.

Realistically, for an overwhelming majority of people, they do recover from loss. They do figure out how to deal with their new reality and be happy again. It's all about how you perceive the task ahead of you which will influence whether you believe you can even do it.

They find a way to 'move forwards' that they are comfortable with.

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