Grief and The Fear of Letting Go

In the beginning, grief is a fog; a thick, dense, and never ending barrier between you and the world as you once knew it. At one point you figured it would lift, as fog tends to do, but after days and then weeks spent under its heavy cloak, you begin to wonder if it’s become a part of your everyday life. In those moments, you might have thought, “All I want is to feel better,”  because you want to feel normal, whatever that may mean to you. Yet the simplicity of a ‘normal’ existence seems unfathomable.  Impossible even.

Then one day you look around and realize you can see a little  further in front of you, things are more colorful, and they’re coming into clarity.  The days start getting a little bit easier, the nights a little more restful.  The tears come a little less and things like laughter, joy, and gratitude are once again a part of your emotional repertoire.  The smallest sliver of light cuts into the dark and you realize that this must be what ‘healing from grief’ looks like.  You also realize, that progress doesn’t feel as sweet as you imagined.

“Something feels off,”  you say to yourself. “I should feel better about feeling better.”  

Grief is funny, you know? You desperately want it to go away, except for sometimes when you don’t want it to go away.

Over the course of time, it seems, love has gotten all mixed up with pain and grief.  You realize your pain has become the expression of love lost; the way you honor your loved one; the one consistent link between life with them and life without them; and an element of proof that their life left an indelible mark on those they leave behind.

Apparently, while you were wishing the pain of  grief away, it turned into something else entirely.  Maybe, in some ways, grief has even come to define you in the context of life after loss.  Who are you if you are not someone grieving the loss of someone very special?  And who are they if you are not here, in life, holding vigil for them?

If you are grappling with any of these thoughts or concerns, you are not the only one. These sorts of feelings come over many people and they might look a little something like this:

I feel okay today, this must mean I am forgetting my loved one!!

My suffering is a sign of how much my loved one meant to me.  If I’m not suffering my love for them must be diminishing!  

If I stop feeling the deep pain of grief it is a sign life can move on without my loved one and I just won’t let that be true.

I knew how to be a wife and I know how to be a grieving widow, but I don’t know how to be a widow who has good days and is moving forward. 

The only thing that keeps me connected to my loved one and keeps their memory alive is the deep pain of my grief.  Any little piece of that grief that disappears is another piece of my loved one disappearing.

These feelings are oh-so-common, I promise.  It is common to feel extremely conflicted about feeling better and, although it may not seem rational, it is also common to gravitate towards the pain. When it feels like the alternative to feeling pain is losing connection to your loved one, what other choice do you have?

So, what to do? What to do? I suspect that the answer to that question will be personal and specific to you, but here is what I suggest:

Step one (and this is the biggest step):

Remember, your loved one’s memory does not live in the pain of your grief.

Say it with me: My loved one’s memory does not live in the pain of my grief.

Then where does your loved one’s memory live?  As cheesy as it sounds, your loved one’s memory lives in YOU.

It lives in the stories that you tell people about your loved one.  It lives in the memories you share together with friends and family.  It lives in the things you do that your loved one taught you.  I lives in the things you do in their honor and memory.  It lives in every silly little thing you do to stay connected to them – from taking photographs, to listening to music they loved, to baking their favorite cake, to whatever other thing you do to continue bonds.

Now, it is easy to see why this reality might be confusing, because in the beginning many of the above things used to bring you a lot of pain.  Things like music and photographs and reminders could easily spur an uncontrollable crying spell and endless hours on the couch eating Ben and Jerry’s.  Reminders once equalled sad – so it isn’t a far leap to think if the pain starts to go away that these things mean less to you –> which means your loved one’s memory is disappearing –> which means your love for them is diminishing.

But this is not what is happening – I promise.

We as humans are capable of some amazing things, like resilience and adaptability.  As time passes your brain learns to manage the emotional pain and, slowly but surely, you get a little more control over the memory.   As you get further from your loss, the pain starts to ease just a bit.  What you must realize, is not that your loved one is disappearing as your pain diminishes; rather, you are learning to live with the memory of your loved one in a different way.

Step Two:

Embrace the idea that as pain diminishes, you may actually find more space to continue bonds and to keep your loved one’s memory alive.

Example: right after my dad died, if a CCR song came on the radio in the car I had to change the station immediately.  It was too much, I was immediately crying hysterically and a safety hazard to myself and other drivers.  Now when as CCR song comes on the radio, chances are I will sing along, do a ridiculous car-dance, and tell whoever is around how much the song reminds me of my dad.

Step Three:

Make a conscious decision to continue bonds.  Your connection to your loved one can be part of your daily life, even as you move forward and find a ‘new normal’ (apologies to the folks I know hate that term!).  So figure out what that looks like for you, and use these 16 ideas to get you started.  You may be surprised to see that, as you find positive ways to continue bonds with the person you have lost, you can let go of more and more of the pain without fear that you are letting go of the person you love.

Struggled with the fear of “moving on”?  Leave a comment to let us know.  And don’t forget to subscribe to get 2 new posts about grief sent straight to your inbox each week!

April 12, 2017

50 responses on "Grief and The Fear of Letting Go"

  1. May 4, 2018… Hilo, HI… volcanic activity and earthquakes, about 20 miles away… that same day, decision was made (thankfully I wasn’t alone on that decision, but no less painful) to stop machines keeping my Tracie alive… her pain and suffering is gone, that is the ONLY peace I have in her passing (and knowing I will be with her again, when my EXPIRATION DATE comes)… and I WILL FULLY choose, to live with pain and the massive void that my physical life…. as it can and will only be filled by her!!! I love and miss you so much Tracie!!! … our ALWAYS and FOREVER/NOW and FOREVER, still holds and will FOREVER be!!!

  2. My 31 year old daughter died 539 days ago. She was disabled. I cared for her all her life. Ever since she left for Heaven, I have been lost and in almost constant grief.

    Six months ago God sent a wonderful man into my life. He is understanding and supportive of my grief. We are crazy about each other and can see a future together but I feel like I live in two worlds. The problem is that I am tethered to my grief and to my past with my daughter. I have been trying to go through her belongings but I feel like I am throwing my daughter away. Also, to let go of the grief feels like a betrayal of my daughter and what she means to me.

    How do you move forward when I can’t seem to let go of my grip on my past life with my daughter?

  3. This article really hits home for me, I lost my husband 3 and half years ago, which was a very tough time. We had lost a friend of the family in October 2013, lost our beloved dog in January 2014, I lost my husband in October 2014, I lost my horse in March 2015, and my niece in December 2015. It has been very tough, however I have jumped into my job and not performing as I should 100% of the time. I get in a depressed mode and don’t want to move, I then go back into work and get caught up to just go back into the depressed mode. I have not grieved for my husband or niece or my animals. I am just existing! How do I get out of this funk.

  4. Loss my dad to cancer which we tried to fight together. I took care of him and he took care of me during this time. I miss him dearly and want him back so much but I don’t want him back with pain. He wanted to beat cancer and live. My ex husband passed five weeks after my dad which I took care of him too. He passed from heart failure. The worst part I am struggling with is I love them with all of being spend everyday with them and my love for them couldn’t keep them alive. Another struggle is I feel guilty because I am feeling angery that they left me behind. Some days I can speak of there names and smile in their memory or something they did but other days that memory makes me cry. I decided I was taking there memory with me.

  5. We had to turn my sons life support off after a brain injury 3 years later I had a brain anurism Joseph was 23 and I just can’t grieve I’d rather sit with a friend and s bottle of vodka as I will talk and cry then I find it difficult talking to a stranger feel like I’m going mad with this pain

  6. Starting to grieve as ex committed suicide nearly 4 years ago. Complex journey but slowly letting go is also freeing. Glad to have supportive friends and great therapist.

  7. I lost my darling boyfriend in September of 2016. He was alive for two short months after a diagnosis of Melanoma. I took a leave and was able to care for him at home. We were happy, deeply in love, and had lived together for 8 wonderful years. He was 62 when he died.

    I was shocked at how dark the grief felt after the numbness wore off. This happened after about 3 months. I didn’t know what to do, and I had a period of panic and anxiety. I started drinking at night and lighting candles, listening to music and crying. I guess I was trying to get back to a kind of grief that felt sweet, not black and vacuous.

    16 months later, I feel I am doing much better. I was able to see that I was holding feelings of loss as a way of keeping him near me. I still cry, but not as much. I can hear music that we loved and danced to without falling apart.

    I definitely did some bargaining. I convinced myself that if I could be peaceful enough, if I meditated enough, he would come to me. I know that this is not true. I do things that bring me peace now, and I do it for myself, not as a means to get him back.

    It is funny what we tell ourselves while grieving.

    I am getting along, learning as I go. I definitely did not want this lesson, and did not want to have to grow this way. I know intellectually that people die, but I think, yeah, but not him…not us. And then I realize, yes him, too.

    I loved reading these posts. Reaching out to friends, family and definitely on sites like this help me to feel less lonely. It helps me to know that I am not the only one who needs to separate the sadness from the wonderful person that I got to love for awhile. Thank you so much.

  8. I lost my 4 year old niece to meningitis very suddenlt 19 months ago. I know my grief is hard I can’t imagine my sisters pain as a mother. My family has aged a decade over the past 19 months. None of us look the same anymore we are tired, emotionally and spiritually drained and just move one because the days are like walls behind you, you cannot stop from pushing you into the next day. I look at photos of my niece and some times I am shocked! I’m like gosh she’s gone! Because all the photos and memories could very easily make you think ah she is just at school or in the next room. Some times I remember something she did so very clearly! Other times I look at her pic like she is someone I don’t know. That scares me! Other times I look at her face and say it cannot be this is a whole force in a little person she cannot be gone! She was larger than life! She was the positive energy and always the happy one in the family! I could write a book on what we all endured at her passing! The press, the pointing fingers, the support, the doctors that got it wrong, the Bible badgers trying to raise her from the dead, the health department, the churches around the globe praying for her, the donations… like I said a book!
    Another thing that scares me is she is always going to be that little four year old girl! She never changes. When I see her friends after a few months at how they have grown it shocks me… they are no longer little like her!

    She loved all things pretty and pink and purple and sparkly! I still walk through the girls department at stores and think oh she would have loved that. I always loved buying her things.

    Her passing has made us all ill. My mother has aches and pains all over her body she can’t get rid of, my dad has heart problems, I am on beta blockers and “happy pills” we have all suffered Health issues since that fateful day!

    Some say abscence makes the heart grow fonder, some say forgetful! I hope it’s fonder! I never want to forget her in the sense of her little ways, a special memory to event. A time we were together, or a thing only she would do! Of course I’ll bever forget I have a niece. But her essence is what I want to treasure in every way I can. I love you so much my sweet sweet girl ❤️🦋 #butterflychild

  9. In 2014, I lost my 42 year old husband to cancer, and 3 months later (to the day, actually), I lost my 10 yr old son to cancer as well. (My son was diagnosed with a brain tumour 1 month after my husband’s death). The pain was unbearable and I wanted to die; a couple times I seriously considered it (not to worry, I have had lots of counselling and have left those thoughts long behind me). My surviving son (he was 11 at the time) and I felt like our lives just stopped. But we got through it. I have never done anything as hard as surviving this, but 4 years on, I can honestly say I am happy in my new life. I still have those moments that hit unexpectedly and hurt, but the hurt isn’t so intense anymore. We are rebuilding our life as best we can, and we share memories and laugh together. So to all I want to say I am genuinely sorry for your losses. I hope by telling my story, it will help you to see that you CAN get through this, but you don’t have to rush!

  10. I think I needed to hear this, I am feeling so broken, I do have “good days” but I feel guilty when I do, I keep thinking, ” I can’t be happy, for God sakes, I lost my son!!!” Our son passed away on January 30, 2017 at 30 years old.

    • Stacy, I am so sorry. I know EXACTLY how you feel! I lost my 33 year old son on January 5th, 2017. It was the worst day of my life and we just had a rememberence of his passing.

  11. I lost my mom August 23rd 2017. This article expresses where I’m at now. I can’t begin to let go of the grief because if I learn to deal or get over grieving it will signal the start of my life ” after mom”. I don’t want there to be an after.

  12. I hope that my comment doesn’t come across disrespectful to those who have quite clearly gone through immense grief due to death of loved ones gone long before their time. But I just wanted to say that this article still resonated hugely with me as someone that has been mourning the end of my first relationship and true love at 26. I’m a year on now , a year of immense depression, anxiety and pain. A year spent crying myself to sleep, crying in the toilets at work, faking smiles and doing anything I can to self soothe & something strange has happened in the last few weeks, I was doing ok, he was still on my mind all the time but I was trying so hard to keep myself up beat, I got a new job, I was proud of myself, I started to feel the pain dissipating slightly. Recently I found myself so anxious, waking up at 5am in panic, desperately clinging to memories of us, forcing tears out and willing myself to cry for hours. I’ve spent a year willing this grief to get out of my body and now it’s going I want it back. I thought I was pathetic and weak for feeling these feelings until I found this page.

    He is fading, it’s all I have wished for, but in my grief ending its like finally letting go of the person I love and deciding to fight for my life without him. I only know me in grief, I can’t remember what it is like to not be obsessed with him, crying over him, feeling sad, anxious….I’ve got comfortable in grief. I’m terrified of taking the next step and accepting that he is gone, it’s over. Who knew that the final stage of grieving a relationship might feel like the biggest challenge of all……Letting go of grieving is now becoming a huge feat in itself. Now I have to find the strength to be happy and let go of my routine of panic attacks and crying. The temptation to remain where I am is so great, weirdly a huge portion of me wants to stay here and be unhappy forever, for fear of moving on is so huge. But I know I can’t stay here…..and I certainly can’t go back. How do you practice letting go of all the sadness and taking those first steps and accepting “it’s over. it’s done. life begins again”,.

  13. Louise McOrmond-PlummerJune 17, 2017 at 9:52 pmReply

    When I lost my Ken to cancer last November, the thought of moving forward (I intensely dislike the term “moving on”) in any way terrified me – in a truly dire, menacing way. I felt that it was disloyal to Ken to even think about happiness. And then once day the penny dropped for me, that seeking what happiness I can is the purest way to show him loyalty – that’s what he wants for me, I know it. My grief is still horrible a lot of the time – he was my world for 30 years and his loss has been catastrophic. But I truly do know that relinquishing the grief as I am ready to do so is in NO way the same as letting Ken go. I’m not sure I will ever again be as happy as I was when he was here physically, but, because I know he wants it, I will strive to be as happy as I can be.

    • Louise McOrmond-PlummerJune 17, 2017 at 10:05 pmReply

      I just wanted to add to my reply above that, when I say seeking happiness is what I know my husband wants for me, that is not at all the same as the tiresome platitude we cop – you know, “Tsk tsk dearie, he wouldn’t want you to cry.” Of COURSE we feel deep pain, and we cry, and hello – we’re the ones still here dealing with it. To clarify my meaning, all of that is true, but denying ourselves any happiness isn’t necessarily the greatest demonstration of our loyalty to our loved one.

  14. I love this post and was trying to explain to my counselor today ( not a grief counselor ) but I don’t think she got it really. I tried to explain that I saw my Husband as a beautiful ice sculpture but every time I looked back at it over my shoulder a bit more of it had melted. Then the next time I looked, a bit more will have melted and I was so worried that the next time I looked that the ice sculpture will have totally melted away and there’d be nothing there anymore. This terrifies me as I too hold onto the grief as a connection but now I know I’m not the only one to do this – but it doesn’t make stopping any easier just yet.

    • Louise McOrmond-PlummerJune 17, 2017 at 8:58 pmReply

      Tina, I get your analogy, and I love it. And I believe that you will find that at the core of that ice-sculpture, the essence of your beautiful husband remains right here with you – it ain’t going anywhere. I lost my darling man to cancer 7 months ago, and have tried to relax my frantic efforts to memorialize him. I had felt that if I didn’t bring him into my world somehow, I have nothing. I’ve found that this isn’t true. Your bond with that man is deathless, hon, and you will know this is your own sweet time. Look up the terrific article on Continuing Bonds on this site xo

      • Louise McOrmond-PlummerJune 17, 2017 at 9:24 pmReply

        Also, Tina, I don’t know if this will fit in any way for you, love, but what if the warm, glowing, eternal thing at the core of that ice-sculpture is what is melting it?

  15. We lost our Mother 10 months ago to cancer. She was not ill prior 3 months before, but they did not diagnose her with stage 4 Lymphoma cancer through body and CNS till May 31. She had no pain and came home to be with children and loved ones. I the eldest of 3 was the one who knew what would happen and had to be strong for Mom, brother and sister. I was with her 24/7 till July 8 when she passed away.
    I know I need to accept her passing, grieve, but I will not allow myself to go there. When she had started to transition I was with my brother in her room playing music for her Michael was crying and I for a second let my pain into my heart, I felt such an uncontrollable moment and heart breaking pain, that I stopped and blocked that from happening. I had to be strong then, I need to accept and allow this into my heart, I am so afraid I will break and no mending anymore. I have had many moments where my heart has broken and the pain is so hard to recover from, now especially without the one who always fixed it. And I know that when I do it does acknowledge that she is gone, it confirms it. I feel it coming and know I can’t ignore it, I know.

    • Louise McOrmond-PlummerJune 17, 2017 at 10:00 pmReply

      Hi John,

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your mum, and I can promise you, as somebody who has cried my eyes out almost ceaselessly for months, that you will be okay if you give expression to your pain – just be sure yo have all the support that you can xo

  16. Hello Heather,
    Im just so sorry reading your posting and feel too the pain that you are experiencing just now. My daughter battled with heroin addiction.. While attempting to reduce on methadone ,started drinking Vodka had a fit and ended up in a coma for 7 months. After living this hell for 15 + years she has miraculously come off all addictions, though sad to say very few ever do.She now goes telling her story to those on the streets and other parents of children in the same situation. Ive just lost my wife after caring for her 7yrs is why i can identify what you are saying. Though i have a faith too (christian)it has,nt stopped me from saying i wish it was me…I knew what id have to go through.when she died in my arms. I hope we can in time learn to separate the pain we are feeling. Laying the pain to rest feels like a betrayal of our love for them. Though its certainly not the way one should be thinking.i know. Especially through the solid foundation of Gods word that tells me. He bore our sorrows & griefs–He might not take the pain away but certainly walks with us through it.Simply because when we see him we shall be like him! God bless

  17. Please add me to the email list

  18. Have been grieving for over 15 years…I’m sure I have heart problems cuz of it. Would like to be on your newsletter list. TY

  19. Twenty-three months after losing my son, I’ve come to the conclusion that we should all respect and try to understand each grief. All of us will not, heal because we have different stories and different lives. I’ve kept busy each and every day, prayed and listened to sermons. As I began to prepare for my son’s birthday four months ago by going through videos and photos it was too much. So, for four months I kept the thoughts at bay and was able to get by, even spent 2 minutes here and there throught the day not thinking about him. But, as soon as I came back to the photos and videos, my world crashed and it’s just like he just died. I believe thoroughly, that we don’t eve heal at all, we just learn to think about other things. I had a lady tell my her daughter was killed 34 years ago. She was driving down the road on her birthday and a song came on and she was weeping uncontrollably. For me, I can’t ever see feeling real joy again until until I get to heaven. I feel something special when I’m with my children and my grandchildren, but that ache doesn’t leave.

  20. My son Arran was killed on the road by a Lorry on the 31may he was just 18 years old he was an accounting apprentice and was a caring kind boy with a great love to enjoy friends and family he had future plans. Now our world is shattered and uncertain his two sisters are in shock and denial and mis their big protective brother. How we do it I do not have an idea I can see people fade away the bills mount up and you lose your job your will to carry on and your purpose gets lost and one day your fighting the next day you stay in bed to weak to talk

  21. This is really good. My granddad died in October (bizarrely a few days after this was posted, it seems). It was the first loss I’ve ever really experienced and I always felt we were close. I wanted the world to stop for some weeks and months – but then after I came out of that initial shock I was really rather glad that it hadn’t.

    It’s been good days and bad days. I don’t imagine the bad days ever stop – they just become far less frequent. Today was the first really bad one in about 3 months. In a way, it’s comforting to know that it still hurts like hell, but I know this can’t continue. Some of the other stories here have been deeply enlightening, too. I need to let his memory thrive, I just don’t always know how to do that.

  22. My son died on March 17 of this year of a heroin overdose. I have very bad days and not so very bad days. I can’t look at pictures of Jesse yet. I know that I will be able to one day. At first I just begged God to take me out of this life. I still do sometimes, but not as much. I know the Jesse would not want me grieving so and my faith helps me so much. But while I know he is just in the next world, I still want him here with me. I sometimes actively pull myself back into the grief when I feel like I’m letting go of any grief. I does feel like if I let go of the grief, I am also letting go of him. While I know that’s not true, it’s how it feels and right now, how it feels is all that matters. It’s all so overwhelming.

    • Heather, I am so sorry and I think so many people can relate to what you describe – knowing it isn’t letting go of him, but still feeling that way. Part of grief (and so many other things, like anxiety and depression) is remembering that sometimes the things we think and feel are not true and figuring out what to do with that!! No easy answers to that. There is figuring out how we comfort ourselves and how we can push ourselves, but it takes time and self-reflection and it isn’t easy. Your son’s death was so incredibly recent and it is okay, especially in the early days, to keep holding on as long as it doesn’t keep us from living the life we need to live.

  23. This posting has made me realise I’m not going crazy. I struggle with grief 18 months on and only now do I allow myself to feel ok some of the time. I know she’d want me to be ok but I still hate the thought of losing her.

    • Louise McOrmond-PlummerJune 17, 2017 at 9:45 pmReply

      Hey Bob, I hope you will come to know, and trust, that you CANNOT lose her – not ever. We already went through that horror once, didn’t we? Seven months into my own journey, I don’t know for sure but I think it’s a real possibility that allowing ourselves to feel whatever happiness we can, actually brings them closer to us xo

  24. I’m a process person by trade. I find grief to be an individual thing. Appreciate those who like to study it , want to make a process or steps. But that doesn’t really fit for me when talking about people. People should think of themselves as individuals. Comparing experiences can be healthy and helpful. hoping you don’t feel too along. keep trying.

  25. This post, like so many, really hit home. Everything I read says, grieve at your own pace, everyone is different. Yet at the 3 1/2 month (113 days…) point, I surely feel like most figure “I am over it and am fine now, why because I smile and laugh”.. HA! So far from it. I put on the happy face and am dying inside. Losing my 28 year daughter, best friend, roommate suddenly, after we both struggled so hard to make it work, how could I ever be ‘over it’??? This post gave me lots to think about. Maybe not for today but for the future. Right now to honor my dear Laura, I feel I need to suffer. Maybe that is why some cultures mourn for a year. I am grateful to have come across WYG.

    Was searching for podcasts on grief while walking our dogs, and WYG came up. At first I felt Litsa & Eleanor were too “flippant” for a “grief” podcast, but then I really liked what they were saying so I stayed with it, and looked up the website & FaceBook page. :& I liked what I found, and am very glad I did.

    • Hey Gloria,

      I am so glad you found us. I’m sorry about the death of your daughter who was your best friend and so many other things. In the grand scheme of things, 3 months is such a short amount of time. Keep going at your own pace, even though others might not continue to recognize your pain. I think you are absolutely right about others cultures observing a year long mourning period, I had the same thought when reading Litsa’s post.

      I’m glad you stuck with the podcast. If you don’t already know us from the site, I can see where our style may seem a little flippant. We know we’re not for everyone…and that’s…okay. 🙂

      Eleanor

  26. Funny, isn’t it (in the interesting, unique sort of way), How individual and unique each of our loss experiences are, and yet how similar our experiences have been and seem to continue to be, at least at some level. Thanks for this great post (and the many, many others), and the link back to the tips for continuing bonds…such a useful and meaningful list.

  27. I feel all of this. I’m afraid to relax and what happens when I finish packing up my dads house? Or sell his truck? It seems so final then. I don’t want it to be final. Does that make sense?

  28. This article is very helpful for me. We are approaching the one year mark in less than two weeks. My son was only 26, the youngest of six. He was still part of my every day life, around all the time. And it’s been devastating.

    There have been very few “good” days this year, but on the days that a glimmer of light comes through, I feel guilty for feeling better. And then, of course, I fall apart again. In reality, it’s very hard for Ian’s siblings and my husband, because they miss him too, and have lost “me.” I’m trying very hard for all of them, and this article is helping me to see that it’s all “normal” and that I can find a way back.

    Thank you so much.

    • Exactly the same feelings as you. My son was also 26. It has been 10 months today, and the guilt I feel is overwhelming some days. I can’t imagine ever being truly happy again. I seem to only remember the struggles. the tears we shared the pain and hopelessness he felt.

      • My son was also 26…approaching the 1-year mark on January 5. Struggling with so much right now, so I do understand how you feel! I am so very sorry for your loss!

  29. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!

    I have to say… this is something that I still struggle with every now and then, even 12 years later.

    What used to be endless crying and pain at the loss of my best friend, has become a desire to live the life I know inside he’d want me to have, and live it by taking and learning from the best of him and everything we faced together.

    But every once in awhile, the idea that I should be sad, because sad = remembering and remembering = love, and therefore, if I’m not, I must love/remember him less… and that must make me a terrible friend because he deserves a lot better than being forgotten… most of the time I know how illogical and self-destructive that is but… sometimes it’s a hard mindset to shake.

    Then other times I am sad and there is no issue, like when I hear a song that reminds me of him and I have to pull over because I can’t see the road through the tears.

  30. I thank you so much for this article. Every thought and every emotion you speak of is very much how I feel. I lost one of my sons last June at the age of 32. Just two weeks ago I also lost my husband. I struggled and still do with thinking that if I don’t revisit the pain in losing my son my love for him could not have been very deep. Now, with the loss of my husband the feelings are very different and I have become to question my love for him also. I am not sure I am quite ready to move on with my feelings just yet, but I will definitely refer back to this article for help along my journey.

  31. Thank You so much for sharing your insight. I so need to hear this now after losing my only child a son Sept. 20, 2014. The pain begins to thrive in your soul if one is not careful. Thank you for helping me see that healing is ok, healthy and joy is still to be found. I read somewhere that joy and pain can share the same heart. If I become as strong as my pain I can accomplish anything.

  32. Thank you for such a great article. I’m discovering that this is true. There were certain songs I couldn’t bear to listen to. Now, I sing the songs to my Love and remember him with joy. Something new is definitely happening.

  33. Ten months ago my beloved son died, aged 30. Prior to his death we had many years of stress, helping him to cope with drug addiction. Recently I have found that, instead of the anguish and unhappiness that he suffered, I can remember how he was many years ago, or during good phases of his life. I can remember his mischievousness as a child, his caring and fun personality and his love and smiles. He was also a very good table tennis player. We have bought a table to play, in memory of him. I want to include him in my life in this way.

    • The last 18 or so months before my brothers death were the same. The ugly struggle of alcoholism. He has been gone almost 19 months and I’m stuck. That he was lost and struggling for that time. That he relapsed after 24 wonderful years of sobriety. That he and I had such a close relationship through life. That I couldn’t save him. Pain seems the option I am more comfortable with. If I start to feel less pain does that make his death less tragic? I know he wouldn’t want me to live like this.

  34. Letting go is one of the hardest parts of grieving. I lost my eldest son, 27 years old, nine years ago, and run grief support groups and work as a psychotherapist, with grief and mourning. Letting go means giving ourselves permission to live. And of course, if we decide that it’s okay to live, it feels like a betrayal of our loved one. Will we forget? What does it mean that we continue our relationship with our deceased loved one?
    This is very difficult for those who mourn to conceive or formulate. It’s true that they live not in our pain, but in our love and our memories. They don’t want their legacy to be that of pain or suffering but of who they were and are and how they lived. Of course, there will always be moments of tears and sadness, but reconciling the loss and acceptance of the loss are early steps in letting go and starting to move forward.
    I do not like the expression “move on” because personally it sounds cold. And what are we moving on to and from. I believe that we do live a “new normal” but rather a new “reality” and that we take steps to move forward with this new reality.
    We decide at some point how to renegotiate the relationship, and that is different for each person. But hanging on to the pain does not mean we remember them more, in fact, we probably remember less because we have given the pain so much room.
    The grief journey is always a work in progress.
    Sharon

  35. I have to say that this is something I’ve been struggling with for a very, very long time. I have convinced myself that letting go of the pain means letting go of Daddy, and clearly letting go of someone you love so much isn’t a good idea, so that means hanging onto the pain. I know it’s irrational, but it’s a roadblock that I’m still struggling to get past. I lost my dad when I was 19 and have come up with thousands of reasons why I still need him in my life in the 5 years since then. Somehow though, even the place I’m in sucks and hurts, I know how to handle it…I know what to expect…so moving on seems too hard. I know rationally that letting go of the pain is good for me and will allow good memories to take it’s place, but the process terrifies me. Reading this post reminds me that I’m not alone in this struggle, so thank you!

    • Louise McOrmond-PlummerJune 17, 2017 at 9:57 pmReply

      Anne, it’s perfectly okay that you still need daddy in your life, hon. Not a thing wrong with that at all – and I hope you find that you’ll always have a relationship with him – just in altered form form, regardless of where you’re at. Have you read the article on continuing bonds on this site? It’s excellent stuff. Please don’t pressure yourself about “moving on” xo

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