After a deep loss like the death of a loved one, well-meaning family members and friends often think they can magically erase our grief by getting us to make some sort of change.
I think sometimes people who are not dealing with deep grief often have no real concept of how difficult it can be to overcome. Also, in their defense, any suggestion is an attempt to help us, even though sometimes the advice seems ridiculous, difficult, or even impossible for those of us who are grieving.
I’ve heard people advise things like, “Everything will be okay if you just move to another place and start over,” or “Everything will be okay if you just take a long vacation and clear your head.”
I know after the loss of my husband, I had friends tell me that everything would be okay if just got a dog, took up a new hobby or started dating.
One friend from my grief group was told that she would feel much better if she just spent more time with her grandkids. A neighbor of mine was advised to find volunteer work.
Sometimes a change does help. Things like moving out of the house where your husband died, starting a new job to fill your lonely hours, or relocating to a city where you have numerous family members are positive changes for some people.
But I think it is a mistake to believe that one major change will take care of grief. In my opinion, you cannot “fix” grief with one life-changing event.
For example, settling in a different location or finding a new interest like dancing, can help you focus on something other than your sorrow. But there is no way to leap from deep grief to happiness. Overcoming grief takes a lot of effort, and is often a slow, day to day struggle.
Whatever change you make, you still have to deal with coping with your loss. You may feel more optimistic moving into a new house, but your grief will move with you.
The best thing to do is to be realistic and not believe that “Everything will be okay” with just one change. That can be disappointing when the change does not “take care” of the grief.
Most of us do end up making changes in our lives after a loss, often out of necessity. But I think it is best to look at each one as a small tool to help us eventually moved forward, instead of some magic, instant answer to overcoming grief.
Everything will be okay eventually, but it takes time, hard work and dealing with adjustments and changes without the expectation that any one will be the ultimate way to end our pain.
Updated: October 5, 2017