Moving Forward From Loss and Grief
Moving forward and recovering from grief is hard, particularly if the grief is complex, disenfranchised or poorly understood
People may say things like, ‘Surely you should be over this by now,’ or suggest that the person or people being grieved for wouldn’t want these feelings to continue. We can also put ourselves under pressure to move on, or feel that we are stuck and don’t know how to shift what is happening, even though we really want to.
I used the power of a symbol
Something like this has happened to me, and I used the power of a symbol to help me to move forward, acknowledging and honouring the reality and significance of my loss and struggle, my grief and suffering.
A couple of years ago, I noticed that I wasn’t fully able to acknowledge that I was living a happy and fulfilling life. Something was holding me back. I realised that a part of me thought that moving on and recognising my happiness meant that what had happened to me didn’t matter any more. But my struggle to have children did matter, and my grief was real. This was an important part of my story, even though it was no longer affecting my life on a daily basis.
I had recently made a new friend, an amazing jeweller and fellow childless woman and I had the idea of asking her to make me a ring that I would always wear.
When I felt sad and when I grieved and mourned, when I felt the familiar pangs of loss, I would imagine I was placing those feelings in the ring. They were safe there, they were honoured and remembered, they were always with me, but they were contained and manageable, and I could smile and be happy and enjoy my life, even though I didn’t forget. And it worked. I found that those lingering feelings that were holding me back were fading away, and my happiness and contentment were increasing.
Less and less did I need to carry out the invisible ritual of acknowledging and naming my feelings and then placing them carefully in the ring for safekeeping.
There are many ways of using a symbol to help with recovery from grief and loss
A object like a ring or necklace may not work for you. You may want to plant a tree or flowers, to make a donation to a charity, to write or draw or make something. One person I know painted meaningful words and names on stones which she placed around her garden. You could also cast these stones into the sea, or leave them somewhere that matters to you. You may create a memory box where you can safely place mementoes which are then stowed carefully away.
There is no one way to create a symbol that is meaningful to you but whenever the difficult feelings arise, you can remember your symbolic act and use this to help you walk into your future, knowing that your past, while not forgotten, is no longer holding you back from living a life of meaning and joy, of contentment and of small everyday happinesses.