I have been hearing a theme in my sessions the past few weeks. And I think it might be a theme that sounds familiar to you. This is a theme that comes up any time I am helping someone explore a serious loss or major change in life. It is the theme of regret, of sadness, of wanting life to be the way it was before. Before the test results came back. Before the car accident. Before whatever moment we learned that our lives were permanently changed.
We don’t get the option of going back in time to make things turn out differently. No matter how much you beat yourself up now, what has happened is what you’ve got. And that can be hard to swallow.
Getting to a place of being able to accept loss and move forward isn’t an easy journey. Whether the loss is of a loved one, or of your sense of safety in your body, the first thing that needs to happen is to create space where your sadness, anger, fear, frustration, and uncertainty can be expressed. Expressed without being minimized or “cheered away.” Because it can be hard for people who love you to watch while you process those tough feelings, it might be helpful to get support from a therapist or a group.
Along with allowing space for your feelings, it is also important to make room to think about how you want your life to look now. (Many people will answer this by saying that they want to go back to before, but, as we’ve established, that’s not an actual option.) This is your after, the part that follows a moment when your life changed forever. And part of how you honor what came before, whether it was time with a loved one or the joy of a healthy body, is choosing to be present and engaged now.
So, this week, I am inviting you to take a moment and do a bit of a self-check. Are you feeling stuck in wishing for before? Does a lot of your time and energy go into trying to force life to rewind? Is it hard for you to connect to the present moment or to plan for the future?
If you answered “yes’ to any of those questions, I hope that today’s post helps you take a step toward getting unstuck. That you are inspired to reach out for support. That you allow yourself to look past the pain, sadness, and fear to consider what might happen tomorrow. That you don’t let your longing for before prevent you from having the best possible after.
If you have suggestions of steps that have helped you move past a major loss or life change, please feel free to share them in the comments.
Image Credit: Photo by Christina Welsh via Flicker under Creative Commons License