In grieving circles, people rail against any hint of pressure to move on, and rightly so.
In our culture there is tremendous pressure on those who are grieving to get over it quickly with as little fuss as possible. In response to this pressure, many folks dig in, pulling their cloak of grief around them like a cocoon from which they refuse to emerge.
None of this is helpful. Grief is a process, not an unalterable state of being. It is a lengthy process that is wildly erratic, deeply uncomfortable and downright bewildering. It takes tremendous trust to traverse this terrain, trust at the very time our basic trust in the reliability of life is being profoundly challenged.
The irony in all this pressure to move on is that we are moving on. Like it or not, life continues. Time doesn’t stand still. Stuff continues to happen…little stuff like going to the grocery store and big stuff like a medical crisis. Life just keeps happening whether we want it to or not.
The real question is not whether we move on but how do we move on?
I’ve seen some people take a downward spiral into unrelenting grief. In my experience this is relatively rare, and it’s one, I suspect, is often rooted in some deep misunderstandings about the nature of attachment, love, and loss.
I’ve also seen many who actively find a way to turn their loss into something good. Jack Walsh of ‘America’s Most Wanted’ always comes to mind. I don’t necessarily like his style or his show, but I have come to admire the fierce will it has taken for him to turn tragedy into a driving purpose to help others.
And then there’s the vast majority who make some kind of peace with their loss. They somehow find a way to move forward with hope, gratitude, love and remembrance for what was, along with the recognition there will always be moments of deep, unbearable sadness that arrive every now and again.
No matter which road your grief is taking, your life is moving on. It is the nature of life to move forward just as it is the nature of grief to take us there…no intervention required.
Photo Credit: juliaf