When a loved one dies, initially it is very difficult to accept the loss and start the next chapter of life. Yet, the experience of millions of mourners tells us that is exactly what they had to do: Realize their old life is part of their personal history, and life without the deceased loved one will be very different.
The concept of a new life for many mourners is repulsive because they think it heralds forgetting the loved one. Nothing could be further from the truth. Others think a new life means starting over. Again, not true. In essence, starting your new life specifically means coping with massive change. No one can resist change; it is the one relentless eternal force.
As many therapists say, “What you resist persists.” That is, if you resist the changes demanded by loss–the pain and anxiety will haunt you continuously as you attempt to live in the past. Here are four reasons why it’s a new life after loss. And, to accept it as a new life and to be open to learning, will help you immensely in adjusting to your great loss.
1. Remember, a major loss means that part of you has died–that part that interacted with the person who died. You no longer have that interaction, that part of your nurturing community. When you realize this, it can be very scary. You will have to find ways to integrate the time you used to spend with the beloved into a new setting, a new life.
2. Nearly all major losses involve the development of new routines. It is natural to embrace the comfortable, predictable ways they we easily grow used to rather than face the unknown. However, one of the tasks of grieving is to adapt to the absence of the deceased. In so doing, we most often have to assume some of the responsibilities the loved one had.