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6 Ways To Move Forward With Grief

Written by: Margaret Dennis, BA, MCA, ESFCD, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Grief never goes away – EVER! It is a myth that we will ever “get over” grief. It just isn’t true. Once we have experienced grief, it becomes part of who we are and lives in our DNA. So many people get caught up in the idea that their grief will someday be gone and that the emotional pain will vanish. It won’t.

Woman supporting and comforting her sad friend while sitting on the sofa at home.

There will always be moments in our lives where the smell of a perfume, the melody of a song, or the image caught out of the corner of our eye will trigger a memory inside of us that takes us immediately back to our grief and we will feel sad all over again.


This doesn’t mean that we will feel the pain as intensely as we did initially. Time can definitely sooth the emotional intensity. But we may feel sadness all over again. And we may cry. And that is OK. Feeling our emotions is normal and better to feel them and let them out then to ignore them and bury them deep down inside of us. That never ends well.


So, how do you move on after grief if it won’t ever go away? Especially after the death of a loved one or a tragic loss? Well, that’s a loaded question and one with an answer that is as unique to everyone as it is the same.


How you choose to move forward with grief is a personal choice and no one can ever know what is best for you. However, there are some things that you can do, in your own unique way, that will help you to move forward with your grief and learn to live with it as a part of who you are now. After grief, you are never the same person – so don’t try to be. Moving forward with grief means figuring out who you are now and who you want to be. It will take time, trial, and effort…but it IS worth it!


STEP 1: Acknowledge Your Grief


Acknowledging your grief is the first step in moving forward with your grief. Looking it in the eye, becoming aware of it, and allowing it to be there is the best thing you can do – without this step, there is no moving forward. Odds are, you didn’t choose the grief event to happen – if anything, I am sure you wish it never had. However, choosing to ignore your grief and pretend like it didn’t happen, will only bring you more heartache. Facing your grief head-on may be the hardest thing you have ever done…and the bravest.


STEP 2: Allow Yourself to Feel Your Feelings – ALL of them


This step is the most crucial step if you want to move forward with your grief. You must allow your feelings to be felt – no matter how painful or scary. You need to let your feelings out. By feeling your feelings, you are releasing them and giving them room to breathe, so that they don’t build up inside of you and fester like a pressure cooker, eventually overflowing and bursting forth and causing you to suffer depression, anxiety, sleepless nights, or unexpected emotional outbursts.


I know that feeling your grief is not easy and sometimes it feels like the sadness will never go away…that the crying will never stop. But, trust me, it will. Even if it is when you finally fall asleep from the exhaustion of crying. Grieving is an ongoing process and feeling your feelings is a part of it. If you feel like you will be overwhelmed with your feelings if you let them out, set a timer for 5-minutes. Then, allow the feelings to be felt and released during that time and when the timer goes off, take a breath, and move on with your day. You will feel lighter, and you will have honoured your grief. You may need to do this a few times a day or once a week – only you can know this for sure. Know, also, that there are other feelings that may come up such as anger, resentment, relief, or guilt. I encourage you to feel all these feelings, as well, or they too will build up and fester and wreak havoc in your life.


STEP 3: Talk About Your Grief


Talking about your grief offers you an opportunity to share your story so that you do not feel as alone in your grief. By openly talking about your grief, it takes away its power over your mind and all the stories and sadness that it can focus on, ultimately keeping you trapped in your grief. By letting other people in and sharing your grief story – either through therapy, bereavement groups, or speaking to friends and family – you can create connections with other people (some of whom may have had similar experiences as you) and gain some support as you move forward.


STEP 4: Show Self-Compassion


Grief is hard and you will have good days and bad days. It is important to show yourself some compassion and grace as you move forward with your grief, allowing for both the good and the bad days without judgement. Give yourself permission to grieve.


STEP 5: Intentionally Choose How You Will Remember & Honour Who You Have Lost & Let Go of the Rest


As you move forward, be intentional in choosing how you will remember and honour those you have lost and ONLY hold onto those things that serve you in moving forward. Remember the joy, the good memories. Keep a photo you loved or your mom’s favourite scarf. But, holding onto the guilt and anger over their loss does not serve you – let it go. If you focus on the negatives and the pain of things that you cannot change, you will never move forward.

STEP 6: Give Yourself Permission to be HAPPY


When we lose someone whom we loved, the thought of ever feeling happy or joy again seems illusive…and when we do experience it, often it comes with feelings of guilt.How could we possibly be happy when our loved one is dead? Doesn’t feeling happy mean that I no longer care about them or am sad that they are gone? No! It doesn’t! It means that you are choosing to live your life and to move forward. You will always carry their memory in your heart, and they would not want you to live a life of misery and sadness because they are gone. They would want you to be happy.


In my work as a Women’s Empowerment & Grief Coach, I help support women around the world honour their experiences, emotions, dreams, and desires in both their personal and professional lives, while gracefully handling everything life throws at them. I also help women to move forward with their grief in a way that allows them to feel empowered. Reach out if you would like support and know that you do not need to walk your journey alone.


Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram; visit me on my Website; check out my 2021 TEDx Talk about grief; or book a Complimentary Coaching Session to learn more about what I do and find out how we could work together. I look forward to meeting you!


 

Margaret Dennis, BA, MCA, ESFCD, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

In 2008, Margaret’s love of human connection was shaken by the loss of her son, twin brother to her daughter Lily, when he was just 3 days old. Rocked to her core, she immersed herself in her event management business and the custom trim company she co-owned. After a complete emotional breakdown, she realized that women couldn’t just make the grief go away the way society expects them to. In 2020 she founded EVOLV coaching to help women around the world honor their lives, emotions, and businesses while gracefully handling everything life throws at them. Her 2021 TEDx talk opened the door to exploring grief and inspired her to develop a transformational methodology that guides women in moving from messy, to functional, to empowered grief. Margaret supports companies through 1:1 coaching, team coaching, motivational speaking, grief workshops, and creating grief plans to help their employees who are suffering. Personal growth junky and lover of funky shoes, Margaret loves road tripping with Lily, and their mini Bernedoodle, Daphne.

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