When I knew loss wasn’t going to define me and I’d started asking the question what would define my life, it felt daunting. Not only was there pressure to fill a blank slate, but I also feared completely walking away from all that had brought me to this present place. I didn’t want to be ‘the lady whose daughter died’, but I didn’t want to leave her life and all she’d contributed to mine in the trash bin either.
I discovered proving to myself I wouldn’t forget Alison freed me to sink into the present moment and investigate how I wanted to fill the blank slate. How did I do this? I integrated honoring the past in my present. Below are three things I found helpful:
- Create Ceremony- No, I don’t mean some big huge elaborate thing you do for every birthday and death date. Alison’s all time favorite was rootbeer floats. So I have those on her special dates. It’s easy to do, it doesn’t take a lot of time, but it is my nod to her on those days.
- New Traditions – When there is a loss it also creates a hole in existing traditions. Instead of attempting to fill the hole or completely write off all of the old, perhaps you can create a new twist in the areas where old traditions no longer fit.
- Guilt – This is a beast, and I’ll probably do a mini series on guilt, but for today I’ll simply say as long as you carry guilt it’s next to impossible to release much space for yourself to move into the new in a whole hearted fashion.
Rather than keeping me chained to the past, weaving in the freedom of honoring the past in the present gave me strength, space, and motivation to show up fully in the present moment.
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This is the fifteenth installment in a series of articles based on, “Good Grief – Embracing Life and Giving Good Support” a talk I gave on May 22, 2019. You can get caught up by starting with the introductory article here.