Life will never be the same again after bereavement, but the grief and pain should lessen. There will come a time when you are able to adapt, adjust and cope with life without the person who has died.
Many people worry that they will forget the person who has died – how they looked, their voice, the good times they had together. There are so many ways you can keep their memory alive. These are just a few suggestions that may help you through your time of grief.
There is no time limit on the grieving process
It may help to remind yourself that your loved one would want you to do what it takes to get through your grief. If you don’t think about them for a while, it doesn’t mean you have forgotten them, aren’t grieving, or didn’t love them. Remember, the process of grieving is also a process of healing.
Talk about them
Try to recall the happy moments you experienced with your loved one. It is important to try focusing on the good times and not dwell on things you can’t change. If friends are telling a story, and feel awkward when your loved one is mentioned, just laugh and add a snippet to the story. It gives those around us permission to include them in the normal day-to-day discussions.
Cherish the memories
Learning to cherish a memory, without letting it control you, is a very important step. Finding a safe ‘place’ for that person can help you heal, and move forward in your life. You may begin to find joy in new experiences. Take comfort in the knowledge that you keep your cherished memories with you, wherever you go. Some people find it comforting to write down their special memories, or put together an album of their favourite photographs.
Do something commemorative
The ‘place’ where you decide to keep your special memories is up to you. Perhaps you can plant a tree, or find a special nature setting to revisit. Some like to make a donation to a charity (e.g. Cruse), or purchase a park bench in memory of their loved one. If you decide to part with his/her clothes, you could donate them to a charity shop e.g. St. David’s. This will benefit others in their time of need.
Forming new friendships and relationships
Many people tell us they feel guilty they are still alive when the other person is dead. They often feel disloyal, or unfaithful, if they withdraw emotionally from their deceased loved one and form new attachments. Moving forward does not mean that you will forget them, or that you didn’t love them. The pain of grief may eventually leave behind warm and lasting memories of a loved one which can give you strength in the years ahead. If you find someone (or someone finds you) who would like to spend time with you and make you happy – it’s allowed! Forming new relationships will give you encouragement and permission to rebuild your life.
Stay engaged in Life
You need time to process your emotions, but you don’t have to cut yourself off from the rest of the world. Spend time with your friends and family, keep working, and do things you enjoy doing. It doesn’t mean you are ignoring your feelings, or forgetting your loved one, but reaching a point where you can remember them without feeling disabling grief. Visit the Cruse web site at www.cruse.org.uk – the site is packed with useful information and can offer support when you need it.