dealing with loss

The Bumpy Road of Letting Go and Moving On and the Difference Between a Blip, Setback and a Relapse

Make no mistake the road toward recovery following loss is a very bumpy one. Just when you think you are making progress you are reminded you still have a long way to go. But trust me, eventually you will look back and realize there are more good days than bad and that you are indeed healing. Depending on your loss the future may look different to how you imagined it to be but from my experience this doesn’t have to necessarily be as awful as it may at first seem, just different. Life can still be meaningful and fulfilling following your recovery.

 

One of the things I learnt in treatment was how to recognize a blip, setback and relapse. The reason it is so important to know the difference between these phenomena is because, once we are beginning to let go and move on, so often we confuse a blip or setback from a complete relapse, thinking we are back at step one unnecessarily and causing us to lose the strength to keep going.

 

Blips

 

These are bad days, perhaps even a bad week. When we have these days, the pain and sorrow from our loss is magnified and worse than we have grown accustomed to.

 

These days are awful but only last up to a week in length maximum, after which we feel as we did before the blip took place. When we experience these days we tend to think they will last longer than they do.

 

Setbacks

 

These are usually between two to three weeks in duration. We again feel all the pain and sorrow from our loss as if it were yesterday and we had not begun on the road to recovery at all.

 

We might begin to think we are back at square one with our ability to cope with our loss and we could be at high risk of thinking we are relapsing into despair, with no hope of recovery in future.

 

You have however made progress even though it doesn’t seem like it during a setback. Use this time to lean on friends and family to feel understood and supported.

 

Once your pain has subsided to a more manageable level (and only then) and you feel almost as you did before the setback, continue to do the positive steps of avoiding behaviors that are contributing to your pain, socializing and engaging with hobbies, even if only for a couple of hours over the weekend.

 

Relapses

 

This typically lasts for one month or more and can be due to triggers such as birthdays or anniversaries or even special occasions or times of year like Christmas.

 

A word of warning though, it sometimes be due to trying to let go and move on before you have properly mourned.

 

This is when you need to question whether you tried to let go and move on before having fully mourned. If you think this is a possibility, seek comfort in close friends and family until your pain is more manageable. Even if you are having a relapse you can and will go on to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life in future, just trust in the recovery process and be patient with yourself.

 

When you feel you have mourned, gently and at your own pace, begin to follow the steps as outlined in this month’s Monday series posts. You will get to a better place however it will take time and you need to be as self-compassionate and patient with the process as you can possibly be.

 

Even though this is one of the most difficult things you can do, hang in there. It will be worth it, I promise.

 

Have you ever made the distinction between blips, setbacks and relapses? Can you share your own wisdom on how to deal with them when they occur? How did you handle setbacks in the past? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

Letting Go In Action: Look to the future with hope and optimism

When we have already let go and are in the process of moving on we benefit from looking to the future with hope and optimism. This is very hard in practice but it is possible. Please only follow today’s exercise if you feel you are well on your way to letting go and moving on as increasing our hope, optimism and overall positivity is only advisable when you have properly mourned your loss, otherwise it can extend the grieving process.

 

Please read my article titled ‘How to Avoid A Negative Downward Spiral by Using the Power of Positivity’ and resolve to do three of the behaviors from the article to cultivate a more optimistic view of the future.

 

Do you feel emotionally ready to do today’s exercise? If so, which three behaviors did you choose to adopt? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

Why letting go and moving on doesn’t mean you don’t care

Often when we are going through the pain of loss, we associate letting go and moving on with not caring as much, thinking instead that remaining in pain honors that which we have lost. Though it is understandable why we might think this, in reality those that have let go and moved on still retain the happy memories of that which they have lost, they have simply decided to let go of their pain and move forward positively.

 

If you also believe that letting go and moving on means you don’t care as much consider what advantages there are to the pain you are experiencing – I personally battled to find any real value in mine.

 

Indeed when we suffer from loss there are many opportunities for growth, including self-compassion, compassion for others, forgiveness, empathy, gained wisdom – even fostering greater emotional strength and resilience. I for one would never trade the struggles I have faced for anything, as they have allowed me to grow in a way that otherwise would not have been possible.

 

Do you believe letting go and moving on means you don’t care as much? Can you find any real value in your pain? If you have overcome this belief how did you do so? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

Letting Go In Action: Read my article on creativity and think about which hobbies appeal to you

Take ten minutes to read my article on creativity and hobbies, titled ‘How to Design A More Fulfilled Life By Being Creative in 6 Simple Steps’, think about which hobbies appeal to you most for tomorrows exercise.

 

Having a creative hobby will promote self-expression and provide you with much needed fulfillment, a very therapeutic exercise for those suffering from loss.

 

Can you see the value in having creative hobbies? What was your main takeaway from the article? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

Positive signs you are letting go

It would have saved me a lot of uncertainty had I known the positive signs to look out for that I was beginning to move on.

 

If you are unsure if you are making progress in letting go and moving on, please see below for the signs you are on the right track…

 

  • Ruminating less
  • Crying less
  • Having more energy
  • Daily tasks are less difficult
  • Your concentration levels improve
  • Things that had lost their enjoyment following the loss, you begin to enjoy again
  • You go out to see friends and talk about your loss less or sometimes not at all
  • You go out to see friends and think about your loss less or sometimes not at all
  • Your passion for your hobbies returns
  • Your motivation and drive increases

 

I hope you find this list encouraging as you continue on your journey to let go and move on. And for those of you who are not there yet, I hope this list serves as compass, showing you what to look out for in your path to recovery.

 

Have you noticed these signs of recovery in yourself and if so are you encouraged by this? Are there any signs of recovery in letting go and moving on that I have missed out? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Why there is always hope of a fulfilling and meaningful future

In my darkest hour it was unimaginable to me that things could get better. Things seemed irrecoverably broken. I realize now that there is always hope for a fulfilling and meaningful future, no matter how much you might be suffering in the present. Things may look different to how you envisaged them but that doesn’t mean life can’t ever be meaningful again.

 

If you are struggling to imagine your future in light of your loss, try to start small. Imagine being close to those you love who are still with you. Imagine supporting the charities closest to your heart and the rewarding feeling that will give you.

 

Once I had recovered from my breakdown (I now call it a breakthrough) in 2009, I found a way to turn the situation around by helping others going through similar difficulties by starting this blog.

 

For you it may be as simple as volunteering for a local charity which resonates with your loss. Whatever action you decide upon, bringing good out of an otherwise awful situation has an extremely healing effect.

 

Never give up hope, there is a better future awaiting you, I promise.

 

Once you believe that life will get better, I would encourage you to read my article on positivity titled ‘How to avoid a negative downwards spiral by using the power of positivity’ which examines the ways we can cultivate a more positive outlook.

 

Can you imagine a meaningful future yet? Did you think of any ways you use your loss and channel it into something positive, like charity work? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

Letting Go In Action: Write about your ideal life

What would your ideal life look like if you had already let go and moved on? This might be incredibly hard to imagine but do your best to try, all possibilities are open to you!

 

To help with this process ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • Where would you live? Would you move home?
  • Which relationships would you nurture?
  • Where would you work and what would you do?
  • Would you explore faith as a source of comfort and support?
  • What would you do in your spare time?

 

Did today’s exercise help you to imagine a life beyond your current pain? What would your ideal life look like? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

Letting Go In Action: List the cons of not letting go and moving on

Take just ten minutes to list all the downsides to holding on to the thing that no longer serves you.

 

To help you get started some common cons are:

 

  • Low mood
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of motivation in life
  • Lack of satisfaction in life
  • Isolation from friends and family (if you have socially withdrawn)
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Hopelessness
  • Being without direction in life and feeling lost
  • Feeling angry
  • Feeling confused
  • Lacking ability to concentrate
  • Being ill
  • Performing poorly at work
  • Being emotionally unavailable to those you love, impacting relationships

 

This exercise is not designed to make you feel hopeless but rather to help you see the impact not letting go and moving on has had on your life. Recognize how it is causing more harm than good whilst you read your own personal list. Choose life, choose letting go and moving on.

 

For those who are depressed following the loss someone you love, I would strongly encourage you to seek therapy as this can be extremely difficult to come to terms with.

 

For those living in America please click here to find a therapist.

 

For those living in the UK please click here to find a therapist.

 

Did you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself? Are you ready to leave these behind you and let go and move on? Have you considered finding a therapist if you have lost someone you love? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.