15 Steps To Moving On After Loss

Loss

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” 

Martin Luther King Jr

 

 

 

 

So.

I think it is over a year since my last post. In my defence, there has been some personal stuff I have been ‘busy’ with. My marriage ended. My Dad died. I, however, am still here.

The tears, anger, bitterness, resentment, guilt, confusion, loss and sadness have faded, and life goes on. I would like to share some things that helped me through what has been a very difficult time, and who knows, they may come in useful to you at some point in dealing with loss.

It went something sort of like this:

1. Get help!

I went to a counsellor. I needed a safe place with no connections, no judgements and a freedom to talk about whatever details I needed to without worrying about how people may react. There are always some things that people you know don’t need to know.

Talk it through

2. Vent

In the past I would have suppressed my anger so this was a challenge. This time I turned to an unlikely source for assistance. Ha Ha! It was Marilyn Manson’s second full-length album. I played this for about 4 weeks every day in my car at an unhealthy volume and sang, barked, screamed and cried my way through the album over and over. Funnily enough I haven’t listened to the album since. But boy, did it help with the release! Whatever works, right?

Get it out

3. Trust again quickly

This was a hard one for me. When life gives you the enema to end all enemas you tend to tense up for a while. It’s a natural reaction. But something inside me urged me to break away from a habit of not trusting. In a weird sort of way it was easier to do from a place of despair because I didn’t believe I could feel any worse! So I ran with it and it opened up a whole other world for me internally and externally.

Trust in life again, quickly

4. Rely on real friends

Real friends have no agenda, no judgement, aren’t attached to the advice they give, or don’t give advice at all. They are just there for you. I had to allow myself to rely on others and would quite possibly still be stuck without them.

Identify friends, and hang on to them

5. Look for the positives and be grateful

Looking each day at what I was grateful for helped so much. Some of the bigger things were my kids, my family, friends and the genuine caring and generosity of people. And smaller things we sometimes take for granted like the taste of good food, a warm coat on a chilly day, a really good pot to cook in, and laughter when it came.

There is always something to be grateful for

6. Take baby steps, but take action

Small little steps each day took me a long way. I have a really good friend that helped me through this. Little tips like, “just get into your gear and stand on the treadmill. If that’s all you do it is more than yesterday”. And bloody hell, it worked! I progressed to running 30 minutes pretty much every day.

Keep moving forward, no matter how hard

7. Exercise

This was my saviour through the anger stage. I put everything into it. The angrier I was the harder I ran: until I ran through it, every day, until it was gone. Having that outlet allowed my body to release it while I worked through the head and heart stuff through other means.

Do anything to make you feel physically stronger

8. Allow time to heal

There are stages to getting over ‘shit’. After the wallowing, self-pitying, woe-is-me phase came impatience and anger with myself for not getting over it quick enough. I had to learn to accept the reality and the feelings I had. To accept that this was here and now, that it would eventually pass, and that it was Ok to just sit with it. I learned that all of that was true.

Be patient

9. Avoid TV if you want to move on. If you don’t watch more

I took refuge in TV. Too much TV numbs me. It drains energy. It leaves me feeling slovenly after it. Trying to move forward and lift my mood after hours in front of the TV was like trying to get clean bathing in grease. I stopped.

Don’t hide

10. Journaling

Just getting stuff out of my head on to paper was cathartic and cleared my mind. It is a similar feeling to walking for miles with a backpack on and the relief when you finally take it off and sit down.

Get out of your head (no – not with alcohol)

11. Look gently at the part you played – and learn

I knew there were lessons there but I couldn’t see them at the start. I had to take the other steps above before I was ready to accept the learning. Looking for them at the start was like finding a stick to beat myself with.

Be gentle with yourself

12. Forgive

I think that I had to forgive myself first before I could forgive others. Forgiveness really does mean letting go. The memories remain and I don’t forget, but the feelings of loss and hurt are gone. A poignant sadness is all that remains. That is when I knew I had let go and that I had forgiven. The intention to forgive came before the forgiveness and my friend Vishnu talks about intention in a great post on forgiveness.

Let it go

13. Find a purpose

It was important for me to find a reason to move on again. One of the things I did was start to read over my bucket list every morning. I can’t understate the power of this. It gave me purpose and restored hope. I can’t tell you how, I just know that it worked. The idea of a possible life ahead of me where dreams were possible was fuel that I desperately needed. I started to feel an enthusiasm for life again that had eluded me for a very long time.

Dare to hope

14. Don’t worry about the future

There were many things about the future my circumstances could justify me being worried about. However, being in a place where it felt like there was no future made not worrying about it easy. It was quite liberating when looked at in a different way. That has stayed with me.

Believe that whatever happens, things will be OK

15. Dream

Dream again. Like a child, without responsibilities and without limitations. The pictures I painted in the mind brought forth life and opportunity. All that exists is now and what I choose to do with that is entirely up to me.

Dare to dream

How have you dealt with loss in the past? Is there anything you would do differently?

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8 Responses to 15 Steps To Moving On After Loss

  1. Steve says:

    Wow, that’s a lot to go through in a short period of time. I’m glad you found a way to get through it all. I guess I should consider myself fortunate that I haven’t had to go through too many things at once.

    I have gone through a few bad times though and your advice is spot on from what I learned about it. Exercise is important, if anything just to get you out of the house and out of your head for a while. But you don’t want to avoid your problems completely. I had a tendency to get lost in movies and books and it was my way of escaping. It’s good for a while, but you have to face your problems in order to get over them.

      

    • Keith says:

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for visiting.

      You are 100% right about avoiding problems. Ironically, avoiding problems is sometimes what gives us the problems in the first place :) And yes, there is a period where books, movies, TV, etc are of use. There is a healing period where we can be too tender for anything and our minds need a reprieve so we need to allow ourselves that. But we need to come out of the shell at some point without leaving it too late.

        

  2. Look who’s back! It’s good to “hear” your voice again.

    You really dove in there and dealt with it, from the sounds of it. I admire your courage in facing things head-on.

    :) Welcome back.

      

    • Keith says:

      Hey Bri :)

      Thanks for your kind and supportive comments (as always). And as for courage, I think you know more about that than most :)

      Thank you.

        

  3. Vishnu says:

    Keith – thank you for sharing this post and tips. I can resonate almost with every point minus the Marilyn Manson for 4 weeks straight:)

    This was an excellent post. Not only because of the depth of the loss and the shake-ups you’ve been experiencing but just the fact that we get a chance to see your writing and insights back here. I’m very excited.

    The three strongest things that resonated with me were forgiveness, purpose and hope. I can’t tell you how much forgiveness has changed with my life even if my ego kept me from forgiving for a very long time. Healing only started when I forgave.

    Next, I too figured I’d quit my job and what was making me money and start doing more that fulfilled my purpose. The energy and discipline it requires to do that made me stopped thinking so much about my pain and loss. Finally, I had to cultivate more hope in my life to make it through each day – a belief that the next day was going to be better than this one.

    One other thing I noticed is how quickly and effectively you’ve been able to move on. I still haven’t recovered from my loss and life’s challenges. My path has been a lot slower and taking a lot more time. I’m basking in every moment of the tragedy:)

    Sending you move love, healing, positivity and hopeful thoughts.

      

    • Keith says:

      Hi Vishnu,

      You never tried a dose of Marilyn Manson, no? Lol

      Thanks for your feedback on the post, appreciated as always.

      I remember reading your story while I was going through the thick of mine and couldn’t believe some of the similarities. In a strange way that helped a lot.

      Glad you think I have moved on quickly and effectively, but the way I see it is moving on is a constant. There isn’t a point where it happens. If anything is to be learned from our less than favourable experiences then we need to keep moving on. From where I am I would say you have moved on effectively, it’s interesting how our perceptions are developed isn’t it? :) I am curious – what is it that makes you feel you haven’t ‘recovered’? Feel free to drop me an email or Skype me if you would prefer not to discuss it here.

      A pleasure as always, Vishnu.

        

  4. Anonymous says:

    Keith. That’s quite some change you’ve been through lately. It’s no wonder we were left with the Game of Thrones post for so long.

    Welcome back my friend!

    Music is amazing for channelling the emotions, isn’t it? After a break up, after a loss, and of course in moments of joy. I can’t relate to MM, but I CAN relate to music being a release.

    It takes the death of a parent to sympathise with the death of parent. Sucks. But life can be like that sometimes.

    PS – My bro will be tres jealous about your Anfield trip, my friend!

      

    • Keith says:

      Hey,

      Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I think the Game of Thrones piece had way too much airtime :)

      Music really is powerful in so many ways for so many things. Even MM has his place.

      The Anfield trip was pretty special alright. More so because I get to share it with my son :)

      Take Care

        

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