Everyone around you is probably telling you that after your loss you will always be hurt and grieving. There was no more explaining after those ideas were uttered, no elaboration on how much grieving they were talking about. No matter how many memoirs you have now read by people who had gone through a tragedy and the emphasis they put on their loss…you’ll realize that the idea of them ‘living’ after it was never really addressed. By the time you discover the portal to a new world, you learn that when you experience a devastating loss from a death or a divorce, what you are left with afterward is a life beyond a regular life. It is beyond a day-to-day experience. The day that you come to terms with this and accept how different you will now become because of our grief, that is when you will come to terms with the fact that you are no longer the person you used to be.
You will become a new person. A person who is no longer thinking the same way as your friends, your family or even your co-workers. You will not no longer talk, act or feel the same. This is when you will realize that you need to stop trying to fit the life you left behind. Your pain will slowly lessen.
Trying to remake the old life was what hurts the most. Instead, there are certain things to ‘do’ and not to ‘do’ that will help you progress into my your ‘new’ life.
Being honest with yourself is tough after loss. Like many people, you probably lie to yourself... about little things. As little as they may be, over time, you probably end up adding two or even three lies a day. Everyone tells a white lie here and there. But you will be different..and start to lie about everything; cleaning the house, going to the grocery store, going out on a date, hating your job… the list goes on. But the biggest lie you can tell yourself is that you are a victim of your own circumstances. The more lies you continue to accumulate, the more passive you become towards your life.
That is the moment that you need to stop lying, and start living. It’s harder to tell yourself the truth than to lie and to do nothing. But you need to change that. Being honest with yourself will help you move forward.
If someone had told you that most of the friends who were with you before your loss, would not be in your life in the future, would you believe them? Probably not. Some of these friends you’ve probably had since you were ten. Others have been your shoulder to cry on for years. Like most people, you’re probably very protective of these friends, because they stood by you during the hardest points of your life.
But as time passes, you will see the relationship with those friends change. Some stronger; some faded. For those that you slowly stop spending time with, it’s not because of a fight, conflict or they are bad people. But because you have changed so much that the internal connector of your friendship is no longer there. You are creating a new life, and this is okay, normal, to let go of certain relationships that no longer work for you. Of course some of the relationships might be stronger than before, so you must be open to this change as well. The truth is that the reality of your relationships as they were before your loss, and as they are afterward, is not the same reality at all. After a profound loss, it’s important to figure out which relationships to renegotiate, which ones to end, and which ones to keep intact and start plugging in to more often.
First dates don’t have to be perfect. They only have to be right for you for where you are today. Not for where you will be a year from now. Mr. or Ms. Right needs only to be right for right now. There is one more thing you need to know. The right person for you right now is someone who may like you more than you like him or her. This individual really has to think the world of you, because every time he or she looks at you, it is like holding a mirror up for you to gaze into.
What your date sees, you see. It’s important at the beginning of your journey back to life that you build your confidence by getting your feet wet, not by trying to find a partner for the rest of your life. The purpose of dating after a divorce, death, or breakup is not to find someone to fall in love with immediately. The purpose is to feel loved, liked, and simply adored. You are rebuilding your identity and reconnecting with your interests and desires.
Get real about your feelings and beliefs. The rug of your old life was pulled out from under your feet, and you probably don’t know where you stand anymore. Loss can create tremendous uncertainty because so much of how we define ourselves comes from our relationships. You need to get real about what your daily life is like right now, to take stock of your reality. Even if the reality is sad or ugly, it is the truth. You may be spending five hours a day crying. Your cupboards and your refrigerator may be empty because you haven’t gone grocery shopping for a month. You may be refusing to pick up the phone and isolating yourself from your friends and family. Whatever the truth is, you can work with it.
Staying in the past and just going over the events of your loss will not help you rebuild your new life and discover your new identity. You can build new brain maps by thinking differently and experiencing a new life. Adding a change in your life is exactly what you need to lead a new, rewarding life. This won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
After a traumatic loss, many find themselves afraid to ask for things, big things..with no clear reason why. Everyone seems to always be good at asking for smaller things, things that we may know we would like the answer to. It appears that the more we ask the more we risk our perception of our worth. So we stop asking for it. And do you know what happens when we stop asking for the things we want? We get much less than we deserve. But you see… we would rather decrease our own worthiness than give someone else the chance to do this to us. Change that.
You may be refusing to pick up the phone and isolating yourself from your friends and family. Going forward, the 360-degree snapshot of your life today will serve as a baseline against which you can measure your progress. You’ll know you’ve made progress in starting over when you perhaps only cry for two hours a day and pick up the phone every third time it rings.
Ultimately, it is your life. If you get invited to dinner and you don't feel like going, say no thank you and go and do whatever you want. This new life is your chance to do the things you want and have the courage to say no. Finally saying no will make you feel more in control.
The person you temporarily become after your loss is not the real you. The identity that’s created while grieving is based upon pain, fear, guilt, anger, sadness, and a broken heart. There is a different identity waiting to be revealed. A real evolution takes place in the brain during the days, months, or years following a loss—and it holds exciting possibilities. It can lead to an extraordinarily happy, productive, and fulfilling new life.
You must embark on your reentry journey by holding nothing back. You need to give it all you’ve got. That’s the way to come back to life and achieve your wildest and most exciting, productive, humanly connected, joyful, and all-around best dreams. Ultimately, living a truly unapologetic life is about being proud to feel alive after a terrible loss. Evolution does not take place when our hearts break, but when they mend.
At first it’s hard to make the transition to a new ‘you’. It requires not feeling guilty for smiling again, laughing again….to face your fears head-on by taking risks again. Above all else, this transition requires you to trust again. Trust in others, and to trust in yourself. That was the feeling that will take you the longest to recover. But once you do, it will take you the furthest.
No matter how old you are, where you are in the world, or how devastating your grief has been, you can shed your old identity and transform your life. So you ask, how do you create a new life? First, you have to believe it is possible.
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