The Challenge of Moving Beyond Our Sorrow
Author: Judy Tatelbaum
A tolling weight on our shoulders after the death of a loved one is the sorrow that we must endure knowing that they can no longer be part of our futures. As we grieve, reminders of our lost hopes and dreams, ones that we wished to celebrate with our loved ones, can be excruciatingly painful.
The Pain of Letting Our Hopes and Dreams Go
Just three years younger than my brother David, I never thought that I would have to live my life without him. However, when David died at 20 years old, I was acutely aware that I had just lost my whole future, our whole future. Everything that we had planned to do together, all the dreams we had for and with each other, were killed off the moment David died. My future felt blank.
Whenever a loved one dies, we feel the added ache for what is no longer possible. Lost to us are the conversations we never had and the wonders of growing old together, watching our families expand. With the loss of a child, also lost to us are graduations, weddings, grandchildren, and every other milestone we had hoped they would cross. The women in my grief group have also talked about missing the little things, parts of their everyday lives that they previously took for granted. Throughout the rest of our lives, we will feel the intense pain of losing what might have been.
The Challenge of Creating Meaningful Futures
All of this points to a very human quality– as we live today, we are always subtly designing an imagined future for ourselves and our loved ones. And since death destroys our dreams, we may feel at a loss to move forward beyond our sorrow to create meaningful lives.
I encourage survivors, when they are ready, to create something in memory of their loved ones. I have often said that one of the best ways we can honor our loved ones is by living great lives and keeping their spirits alive. Crafting pieces of writing or art, volunteering in our communities, and making donations are just a few of the many things we can do to forward their memories. We can honor our loved ones by helping and inspiring others to move with us into better, brighter futures.
Judy Tatelbaum is a Psychotherapist, Public Speaker and Author
Photos: TAPS Archives